TORRANCE, Calif. - American Honda Motor Co. is partnering with Massachusetts-based Climate Energy to bring micro combined heat and power (MCHP) cogeneration technology to the home. The new MCHP system uses natural gas to provide residential heating, with the added benefit of producing electric power for residential use.

Honda will supply its compact home-use cogeneration unit to Climate Energy which will combine it with a furnace or boiler and market the entire system as an alternative to conventional space heating and electric power in new and existing homes. Working in coordination with state and local authorities as well as energy utilities, limited in-home field test installations are expected to occur by late 2005, with more widespread distribution planned for fall 2006.

The Honda unit consists of a small natural gas-powered internal combustion engine (the GE160V) developed specifically for this application, and a small electrical generation system that utilizes Honda's sine wave inverter technology.

Honda bills the GE160V as the world's smallest reciprocating gas engine. A three-way catalyst and oxygen feedback control reduce NOx emissions, resulting in cleaner exhaust gas emissions than those of conventional domestic water heaters, says the company.

Honda also expects the system to yield a 30 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions as compared with conventional heating appliances and grid-supplied electricity.

Designed primarily for detached single-family homes, the unit will generate up to 3 kilowatts of thermal output per hour and 1 kilowatt of electricity.

The complete Climate Energy Micro-CHP system, powered by the Honda MCHP unit, is said to provide more than 85 percent efficiency in converting fuel energy into useful heat and electric power.

A similar version of Honda's cogeneration unit has been available for general use in Japan since March 2003, and is now in more than 15,000 homes.

Publication date: 05/02/2005