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Published on July 10th, 2009 | by Susan Kraemer


7 Quadrillion BTUs of Free Energy Available

July 10th, 2009 by  

Up to 50 percent of all fuel burned in the US goes unused into our atmosphere as wasted heat; the US Department of Energy has found. The total, a mind boggling 7 quadrillion BTUs; exceeds the current output of all other US renewable sources – such as solar, wind and geothermal, combined.

We could use this potential waste heat capacity to generate 46 GWs of new, clean electricity annually.

So, it’s no surprise that Steven Chu’s remarkably proactive winner-picking Department of Energy is today offering up to $40 million for R&D and demonstration of combined heat and power (CHP) systems.

Combined Heat & Power – especially when combined with District Heating (that’s what’s kept radiators hissing on freezing winter nights in New York Lofts since the 19th century) is more than 80% efficient compared to about 45% for conventional heat and power production.

The DOE solicitation will seek applications for funding of R&D and demonstration of stationary CHP systems at three power levels.

“Each day in the United States, thousands of companies’ burn fossil fuels to heat boilers, melt metals, run engines and cook the food that lines grocery store shelves. Despite industry efforts to use heat from burning fuel as efficiently as possible, staggering amounts literally go up in smoke each year.”

So says William C. Olson of  ElectraTherm; one of the few US CHP companies toiling away in obscurity. Till now. This year, it’s a very different DOE. Recycling heat is hot.

“Utilizing waste heat from industrial processes could increase efficiency by as much as 20 percent — not next year, not in three years — today!  We can literally create energy out of thin air.”

Image from Flikr User Sash13

Via the DOE  


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About the Author

writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today and Renewable Energy World.  She has also been published at Wind Energy Update, Solar Plaza, Earthtechling PV-Insider , and GreenProphet, Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.

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