MSU gets grant to continue developing energy system

Published 6:19 pm Friday, September 29, 2006

Mississippi State University researchers will use a $962,000 federal grant to continue developing an alternative energy production system that could be used in residential, agricultural and small commercial buildings.

The U.S. Department of Energy money is going to the university’s Micro Cooling, Heating and Power, and Bio-Fuel Center. The agency previously provided $3.8 million for the program, which was established in 2004.

The initial system will consist of a vapor compression cooling system powered by a propane or natural gas-driven generator, with waste heat recovery for hot water and heating, said Louay M. Chamra, leader of the university’s Micro-CHP research program.

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Chamra predicted a small commercial cooling, heating and power system delivering less than 15 kilowatts of electric power could be available within two or three years.

“This system will be packaged as one unit to be used in a residential home or on a small farm,” said Chamra, who earned a doctorate in mechanical engineering from Pennsylvania State University in 1992 and joined the MSU faculty in 1996. “Fifteen kilowatts is more than enough for most houses.”

The university said combined cooling, heating and power is a promising technology for increased energy efficiency. Waste energy from the power production is used to provide the cooling, heating and hot water or steam needs for the site.

Chamra said cooling, heating and power systems are expected to promote energy reliability and self-sufficiency for many large institutional, industrial and agricultural applications, while providing energy security during disasters.

He said the systems are designed to be environmentally friendly by reducing greenhouse emissions.