Skip to main content

Development and testing of residential micro-CHP powered by opposed piston engine

Publication Type
ORNL Report
Publication Date

A micro–combined heat and power (mCHP) prototype powered by innovative opposed piston engine technology was developed to simultaneously provide electricity and heat to residential or light commercial buildings. The mCHP prototype targeted at residential applications includes an opposed-piston four-stroke (OP4S) engine, generator, rectifier, inverter, battery energy storage system, 52 gal water tank, and application accessories for hot water supply and space heating. The OP4S engine can use renewable or regular natural gas, as well as hydrogen, to generate mechanical power and waste heat in form of hot coolant and exhaust gas simultaneously. The waste heat is recovered and stored in the water tank and can be used as a regular hot water supply and/or for space heating application. The tests show that the mCHP prototype enabled power outputs in the range of 3.2 –7.4 kW with up to 26.4% of AC electricity efficiency and up to 93.1% of the overall mCHP efficiency under stoichiometric combustion modes λ=~1.0. The mCHP was also run under lean combustion mode conditions at λ=~1.3. The lean mode operation enable more than 30% improvement in electrical energy efficiency.. The maximum AC efficiency of the lean combustion mode attained was 35.2%, with the the engine efficiency is approaching 40%. The exceptional electrical efficiency breaks the typical upper boundary of 30% for ICE-based mCHP. The engine exhaust temperatures in the lean modes are substantially less than in the stoichiometric modes. Moreover, the lean cases achieve high overall mCHP efficiencies: the overall mCHP efficiencies are all greater than 94%. Considering the mCHP prototype can achieve low-cost, flexible matching of thermal and electrical loads through reducing the complexity of distribution and installation, and high efficiency the novel technology will promote mCHP acceptance in the US residential and light commercial markets.