Waste heat from electricity generation recycled...to power air-conditioners

An Absorption Chiller and Thermal Storage System that converts waste heat to energy used for powering air-conditioners at A*Star's Experimental Power Grid Centre on Jurong Island. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND LIM
An Absorption Chiller and Thermal Storage System that converts waste heat to energy used for powering air-conditioners at A*Star's Experimental Power Grid Centre on Jurong Island. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND LIM

SINGAPORE - Heat is often an unwanted byproduct in the process of electricity generation. But scientists here have found a way to turn it into something useful.

Instead of letting the heat escape into the atmosphere, it is now being channelled to power the air-conditioning system in the Agency for Science, Technology and Research's (A*Star) Experimental Power Grid Centre on Jurong Island.

This system, known as the Combined Heat and Power plant, was on Tuesday morning commissioned by the centre, Hitachi and the Building and Construction Authority.

It was jointly developed by A*Star's Experimental Power Grid Centre and Hitachi, and funded by the A*Star-Ministry of National Development Green Building Joint Grant call.

This technology is now still in a pilot phase but is expected to be rolled out commercially within the next two years.

If adopted by other buildings to power their air-conditioning, the system will help increase their energy efficiency. It is estimated that in each commercial building, air conditioning comprises up to half of total energy used.

But this can be cut through the adoption of the Combined Heat and Power plant, as it reduces the amount of electricity drawn from the grid to power the air-conditioners.

Associate Professor Ashwin M Khambadkone, programme director of A*Star's Experimental Power Grid Centre, said: "With the commissioning of the advanced Combined Heat and Power plant, (the centre) is able to provide a platform to further research in energy efficiency in buildings.

"Our research in this field addresses the Government's call for more environmentally-friendly, energy-efficient buildings and the penetration of renewable energy."

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