Nov 12, 2014

Oregon State University - Cascades' Energy Systems Laboratory in Bend is leading a research project that will benchmark home natural gas-fueled generators and provide insight on the current state of commercially available generator performance in the U.S.

Natural gas-fueled generators rely on residential natural gas to create electricity for home use.  A specialized version of the natural gas-fueled generator, called combined-heat-and-power, provides power, and in addition recovers heat created during the conversion process and redirects it to heat the home, allowing maximum energy efficiency.  Combined-heat-and-power generators can be used as a home’s primary energy source.  They are commercially available and used overseas, but have not yet become widely available in the U.S.

The year-long project will identify elements of these generators that can be improved and highlight opportunities to improve their efficiencies, ultimately benefiting consumers.

The grant, totalling $500,000, is part of a national effort to advance high-potential, high-impact energy technologies.  The project is part of a $10 million program called Innovative Development in Energy-Related Applied Science - or “IDEAS”. The goal of IDEAS is to accelerate development of innovative technologies that can sustainably store, convert or transmit energy.

The project is led by Chris Hagen, an assistant professor and director of the Energy Systems Laboratory.  An alumnus of OSU-Cascades’ energy systems engineering program, Zac Taie, is assisting on the project at the Bend lab.  Taie graduated in 2014 from OSU-Cascades’ energy systems engineering program and is pursuing a master’s degree in mechanical engineering at OSU in Corvallis.  He will incorporate his research from the project into a graduate thesis.

OSU-Cascades subcontracted some of the work for this project to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee and Intertek-Carnot Testing Laboratory in San Antonio, Texas.