Gas Technology Institute (GTI) recently announced the opening of its Combine Heat and Power (CHP) and Renewable Energy Laboratory located on an 18-acre site in Des Plaines, Illinois. Much of the focus of this lab will be to bring to market more capabilities for developing a wide variety of efficient, sustainable renewable energy technologies such as solar thermal products. The site features a multitude of different types of low-to-medium temperature solar thermal technologies including tankless natural gas water heaters, boilers, space conditioning equipment, and more.
In a press statement Bill Liss, Managing Director, End Use Solutions said, “The advancement of renewable energy is crucial to reducing the demand for conventional fossil fuels while also reducing carbon emissions. A key challenge, however, is integrating renewable energy solutions – such as solar thermal – in a cost-effective way for homes, commercial businesses, and manufacturing facilities. We’re addressing these challenges, with a goal of bringing practical, clean, high-efficiency hybrid solar thermal energy technologies to the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors.”
According to GTI, their solar thermal R&D portfolio focuses on advancements of traditional lower-temperature solar thermal (less than 200°F) for hot water or space heating, and newer higher-temperature (over 200°F) systems that can be used for steam generation, absorption cooling, process heating, and other value-added uses.
“Solar thermal water heating technology has been around for more than a century,” said Liss. “However, innovative processes are breathing new life into this technology. When coupled with the most advanced natural gas water heating systems and the latest computer controls, new solar thermal energy solutions are creating a very dynamic and reliable renewable application.”
GTI also notes that advanced “hybrid systems,” which use solar thermal energy along with natural gas or propane, can reduce energy consumption by up to 40 percent including lower capital and installation costs. With sponsorship from Utilization Technology Development, they are developing a residential hybrid-gas solar hot water system that will reduce materials, manufacturing and installation costs. GTI hopes to bring these types of technologies to market soon at a cost-effective price.