Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham recently announced contracts of $18.5 million to seven industry teams for research, development and testing of "first generation" packaged cooling, heating and power systems for commercial and institutional buildings.

The industry partners will contribute to the total project costs. Called distributed energy resource systems, these projects are expected to develop easy-to-order and install packaged systems that will supply energy at the customers' site, improve electric reliability, support existing utility grids, and increase energy and economic efficiency.

"Today, approximately two-thirds of the fuel energy used to generate electricity in the U.S. is wasted in the form of lost heat," said Abraham. "By productively using waste heat to provide cooling, heating and humidity control in commercial and institutional buildings, distributed energy resource systems can improve overall resource efficiency levels to 70% or greater."

Final contract amounts are subject to negotiation. The industry teams selected for developing packaged/modular Cooling Heating and Power Systems for Buildings (BCHP) are:

  • Burns and McDonnell in Kansas City, MO, partnered with Solar Turbines Inc. and Broad USA, awarded approximately $3 million to design and construct a BCHP system that provides electricity from a Taurus 5,200 kW turbine generator, up to 3,000 refrigeration tons (RT) of free waste heat driven absorption cooling and up to 17,000 RT of additional supplemental gas-fired cooling.
  • Capstone Turbine Corporation in Woodland Hills, CA, was awarded approximately $3 million to design and test packaged BCHP Systems based on using waste heat from Capstone's 60 kW microturbines coupled with absorption chillers for air-conditioning and a desiccant for humidity control.
  • Gas Technology Institute in Des Plaines (Chicago), IL, partnered with Waukesha and Trane, awarded $2,464,202 to combine Waukesha engine generators with Trane absorption chillers. Engine sizes range from 290 kW to 770 kW (matched to several absorption chillers) producing a modular range of sizes to match a variety of building types/markets.
  • Honeywell Laboratories in Minneapolis, MN, was awarded $4,259,202 to develop and field test a large (2 to 5 mW) BCHP packaged system. The turbine generator will be combined with a 500 to 2,000 RT absorption chiller and a prototype will be set up and tested at Fort Bragg, NC.
  • Ingersoll Rand in Portsmouth, NH, was awarded $2,305,469 to combine a new 70 kW microturbine with an ammonia-water absorption refrigeration system. The absorption system will be used to cool the turbine's inlet air and also to produce refrigeration for building space conditioning and for refrigerator-freezer applications.
  • NiSource Energy Technologies in Merrillville, IN, was awarded $800,000 to work with a Hilton Hotel developer to demonstrate a modular packaged BCHP system. The system, three microturbines, heat recovery heat exchangers, an absorption chiller, a desiccant unit, and an integrated control system is targeted at hotel/motel chains with the goal of becoming the standardized model for hotels/motels.
  • United Technologies Research Center (UTRC) in East Hartford, CT, was awarded $2,841,193 for an accelerated BCHP system based on off-the-shelf components to make a packaged system within the project's first year; an additional optimized BCHP system also will be developed. Systems will be based on the new 400kW DTE Energy Technologies Microturbine system coupled to Carrier absorption chillers. Both recuperated and un-recuperated microturbine combinations will be used. Possible use of waste heat driven ammonia water refrigeration systems, desiccant systems, and thermal storage also are being evaluated.