Thursday, October 1, 2009

Combined Heat and Power

Many existing forms of electricity generation produce huge amounts of waste heat, but these massive centralized plants have no way to make use of this resource. Regardless of how efficient these plants become, or how "clean," centralized generation will always waste energy. As we rethink and update how we create and use energy in the United States, distributed energy is going to be a huge part of the solution.

The biomass gasification systems that we use at Colorado Forest and Energy are perfectly suited for distributed generation, they make extremely efficient use of waste residues by converting them to both power and heat. We attach directly to customer's site, where the heat produced in gasification and generation is easily routed to the customer's facility. When operating in this "combined heat and power (CHP) mode" these units have over 80% efficiency, converting over 80% of the energy stored in the feedstock into useable energy.

I came accross another very interesting combined heat and power company recently, Ceres Power. Their fuel cells are sized for a single home, much smaller than a BioMax,  but are based on the same principle of providing heat and power. They use the natural gas piped into the home to do this. Some day perhaps we will see a fuel cell running on the syngas from a BioMax!


  1. Cool that you're posting on CHP. I'm associated with Recycled Energy Development (, the CHP company that's run by the father-son team of Tom and Sean Casten, who've been the leaders in this field for a while now. The potential here is truly massive: EPA and DOE estimates suggest there's enough recoverable waste energy (mostly heat) to slash U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 20%. That's as much as if we took every passenger vehicle off the road. Meanwhile, costs would fall due to increased efficiency.

  2. Miggs,
    Thanks for letting me know about your company, I love the recycling messsage, it is a concept near and dear to me! There are HUGE amounts of heat generate in all sorts of industrial and commercial applications, cogeneration and steam turbines are good options for using it. Have you looked at Organic Rankine Cycles at all?
    I liked the video on your site laying out some policy options, great stuff.
    Keep up the good work.

  3. Galen, haven't checked out Organic Rankine Cycles; will give it a Google. Glad you like the videos, too!