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Recovery Act-Funded Water Heating Projects

The U.S. Department of Energy was allocated funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to conduct research into water heating technologies and applications. Projects funded by the Recovery Act include:

Development and Validation of a Gas-Fired Residential Heat Pump Water Heater

Funding amount: $1.35 million
Stone Mountain Technologies, Inc.

The goal of this project is to develop a gas-fired residential heat pump water heater with a primary fuel efficiency 2.4 times higher than conventional gas storage water heaters, and 2.1 times higher than electric heat pump water heaters.  The heat pump cycle efficiency is expected to be approximately 160%, resulting in an efficiency factor of 1.5, accounting for stand-by losses.  The heat pump will be mounted directly on top of the storage tank, with a capacity and storage volume that align with electric heat pump models currently under development by the industry.  The heat pump will utilize a simple ammonia-water cycle and high efficiency heat and mass exchangers to keep the footprint small and the refrigerant charge very low.  Such gas-fired residential heat pump water heaters would cut the energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in half, compared to conventional gas-fired storage water heaters.

Grant Award Summary

High Energy Efficiency R-744 Commercial Heat Pump Water Heaters

Funding amount: $1 million
Creative Thermal Solutions, Inc.

The goal of this project is to develop a high-efficiency, R-744 carbon dioxide heat pump water heater with effective utilization of the cooling capability for air-conditioning and refrigeration.  The heat pump extracts low grade heat from the ambient air and produces high grade heat suitable for heating water in a storage tank, providing primary energy efficiencies up to 50% higher than the best condensing gas water heaters and up to four times higher than the best electric water heaters on the market today.  The proposed cycle energy efficiency improvements will be achieved through the utilization of ejectors, high performance gas coolers, and the implementation of improved electric motors for the refrigerant compressor.  The ultimate goal is to achieve total system Coefficient of Performance (an efficiency measure) of up to 8.  These next generation R-744 heat pump water heaters will be targeted for commercial use where cooling load is typically needed year round.

Grant Award Summary

Water Heater ZigBee Open Standard Wireless Controller

Funding amount: $1.65 million
Emerson Electric Co.

The goal of this project is to develop and commercialize a new product that incorporates a predictive algorithm that learns usage patterns and reduces unnecessary water heating during times when there is a history of peak grid usage.  The algorithm tracks water usage patterns to know when and how much hot water will be needed.  It can also track grid-load patterns via its communication link to the smart grid.  The algorithm will proactively turn off power to the water heater to level out demand.  This product will also include an interactive user display that supplies the consumer with a tool to manage the cost and energy used by the water heater.  This new technology can be applied to both existing water heaters and new Original Equipment Manufacturer-built water heaters.  Nationwide, there is a potential daily reduction of over 37 million kilowatt hours (kWh) by proactively removing demand from the grid during on-peak hours.  Over one year, this could transfer 1.1 billion kWh to off-peak times. 

Grant Award Summary