New µ-CHP network technologies for energy efficient and sustainable districts

Solutions developed

The m-CHP systems are being field-tested at sites in Spain and Poland. Scientists have combined fuel cell technology with biomass energy generation from food waste via innovative biogas tanks for domestic use. The gas could be injected to the grid after purification. The first prototype has been demonstrated in an apartment in Milan, Italy. FC-DISTRICT developed new external thermal insulation compound systems based on vacuum insulation panels (VIPs) and phase-change material (PCM) boards to increase the thermal efficiency of buildings. VIPs, similar in concept to double-paned glass, replace the air in the sandwich layer with a vacuum that prevents conduction and convection of heat for very efficient performance. PCMs exploit thermodynamics for energy efficiency, absorbing heat during the daytime through an endothermic phase change (usually melting) and releasing it at night through the reverse reaction.

Main results

The thermal insulation concepts are being tested at two sites in Greece. In addition to energy generation and improved building thermal energy management, FC-DISTRICT work has included an improved distribution system with optimised piping and district heating again exploiting VIPs. The team has also developed and installed a wireless communication system at the test site in Poland for system control and management. FC-DISTRICT technology could reduce heating/cooling consumption by up to 60 % at the district level. It is expected to have important impact on the way in which small communities produce, use and manage electricity and heat. Greater autonomy will lead to enhanced efficiency and reduced energy costs using sustainable practices.