Combined Heat and Power (CHP)

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Combined heat and power (CHP)—sometimes called cogeneration—is an integrated set of technologies for the simultaneous, on-site production of electricity and heat. R&D breakthroughs can help U.S. manufacturers introduce advanced technologies and systems to users in the United States and around the world.

CHP and distributed energy systems improve energy efficiency, reduce carbon emissions, optimize fuel flexibility, lower company operating costs, and facilitate market opportunities for the CHP share of U.S. electricity generating capacity.

FLEXIBLE CHP SYSTEMS TO SUPPORT GRID MODERNIZATION

The CHP R&D project portfolio focuses on the development of flexible CHP systems that can provide support services to the modern electric grid. While technologies that are specifically designed to integrate CHP systems with the grid are not readily available, this potential is being addressed by DOE.  

The goal of the current CHP R&D project portfolio is to enable private sector development of flexible CHP systems that can play a potential role in stabilizing and improving the resiliency of the electric grid. The projects are divided into two topic areas: (1) power electronics and control systems and (2) electricity generation components. Descriptions of the current R&D projects are provided below.

power electronics and control systems:

  • Clemson University (Clemson, SC): Project will develop a power conditioning system converter and a corresponding control system for flexible CHP systems. It will enable high speed gas turbines to more effectively provide grid support functions in new CHP installations or retrofit applications.
  • GE Global Research (Niskayuna, NY): Project will develop a set of full-size grid-interface converter system and control solutions to interconnect small and midsize CHP engines to a low-voltage or medium-voltage utility grid. The enhanced microgrid controller would enable engagement of a CHP system operator with the electric power grid operator through generator and/or microgrid controls.
  • University of Tennessee, Knoxville (Knoxville, TN): Project will develop a power conditioning system converter and a corresponding control system for flexible CHP systems. The power conditioning system converter and controller will support different kinds of CHP prime movers and will be scalable to serve as the interface connector between CHP systems and a medium-voltage grid.
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Blacksburg, VA): Project will develop a modular, scalable medium-voltage power converter featuring stability-enhanced grid support functions for future flexible CHP systems operating in small or midsize U.S. manufacturing plants. The project provides foundational work on power electronics and control systems enabled by advanced wide bandgap semiconductor technology.

electricity generation components:

  • ElectraTherm, Inc. (Flowery Branch, GA): Project will develop a high temperature Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) generation unit to provide additional power when needed by the grid, while also maintaining useful thermal energy for use in CHP applications. The ORC developed under this project will overcome the current limitation of useful thermal energy after the bottoming cycle.
  • Siemens Corporation (Princeton, NY): Project will use a supercritical CO2 bottoming cycle to increase electrical output of CHP systems to respond to grid requests. The approach will optimize design of power systems, develop some key components (advanced heat exchangers), and demonstrate their performance in actual rig tests to prove the feasibility of the complete system.
  • Southwest Research Institute (San Antonio, TX): The objective of this project is to expand the operational window of gas turbines for greater turndown, allowing for more flexibility in the power/heat ratios and enable grid support by CHP systems. This will be accomplished by developing a low-emission combustion system capable of sustaining combustion during high turndown operation.

Find information about past CHP R&D projects funded by DOE. Previous R&D efforts focused on advanced reciprocating engine systems, packaged CHP systems, high-value applications, fuel-flexible CHP, and technology demonstrations.

Learn more about Industrial Distributed Energy and CHP, including basicsbenefits, and
technical assistance activities to help deploy technologies.