The Department of Energy (DOE) is commissioning a group of manufacturers and associations to develop a combined heat and power system that will provide more reliable and less costly energy for residential use. The Micro-Combined Heat and Power (CHP) system will generate electricity and then utilize the rejected heat for useful household purposes, such as space and water heating. The prototype will provide emergency power to the home when grid power is lost.

The group includes TIAX LLC, a collaborative product and technology development firm with experience in the appliance industry; Rheem Manufacturing Co., a manufacturer of residential and commercial water heaters, central warm air furnaces and air conditioners; the Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association (GAMA); and the Propane Education and Research Council, which will provide funding for the project.

Currently, manufacturers have commercialized Micro-CHP systems in both Europe and Japan, however these products are typically not designed for use in homes with forced hot-air heating, the dominant heating system in the United States. Most foreign Micro-CHP systems also do not provide emergency backup when grid power is lost.

The DOE project will be divided into several phases of work. The first phase of the project, which will last a year, will involve system analysis and design. Members of the team will identify the market potential and market requirements, analyze design options to satisfy market requirements, develop a proof-of-principle design, and develop a commercialization strategy. Subsequent phases will focus on prototype development and testing.