A unique device that can produce electricity and hot water as well as heat or cool your home is being touted by Australian inventors as a revolutionary way to help solve the nation’s energy crisis.
The “energy on demand” device works by producing heat to drive turbines that generate electricity for homes, hospitals, shops, office buildings and factories.
The heat loss from the hot air that’s produced can also be diverted into a building’s heating and cooling systems.
Sydney-based firm Infratech Industries and the University of Newcastle have developed the device, which can be used in conjunction with electricity from the national grid or independent of it.
They say their system is the first of its kind in the world, and is free from the predictability issues that can sometimes plague renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.
“It’s a step-change in technology from what is currently available,” Infratech founder and chief executive Dr Rajesh Nellore said.
“We are not only talking about power generation but other needs the consumer has and reducing overall dependency on the national electricity grid.”
The device has been dubbed CLES, short for chemical looping energy on demand system.
Speaking ahead of its launch at the University of Newcastle on Thursday, Dr Nellore said the current version measures two metres square and can produce enough power for 30-40 homes.
It generates electricity from a “chemical looping process” involving a naturally occurring particle mixture.
When those particles combine with oxygen they produce heat that runs turbines inside the device to create electricity.
Heat that’s lost during the process is then captured to produce hot water and supply heating and cooling systems.
Oxygen and hydrogen are other byproducts, which Dr Nellore says can be sold off for use by hospitals, steel mills and fish farms.
“So it’s a polygeneration unit that has multiple benefits,” he said.
Dr Nellore said the unit can be used as an energy storage device that can be charged like a battery using electricity from the national grid.
Households could use electricity generated and stored by the device during off-peak periods for energy demand, potentially lowering their power bills.