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Honda's Micro Cogen Unit Provides Both Heat, Power to Homes

American Honda Motor Co. said it is working with Massachusetts-based Climate Energy LLC to bring a micro combined heat and power (MCHP) cogeneration technology power by natural gas to the U.S. residential sector. Honda said the system will provide residential heat more efficiently than ever before, with the added benefit of producing electricity. About 15,000 of the units are already in homes across Japan.

Honda will supply its compact home-use cogeneration unit to Climate Energy who will combine it with a furnace or boiler, and market the entire system as an alternative to conventional space heating and electric power in new and existing homes. Working in coordination with state and local authorities as well as energy utilities, limited in-home field test installations will occur by late 2005, with more widespread distribution planned from fall 2006.

"MCHP technology will provide residential consumers with new levels of comfort and energy efficiency, while reducing their utility bills," said Wade Terry, vice president of Honda Power Equipment. "Honda is a name consumers already associate with reliable, forward-thinking technologies like hybrid automobiles, natural gas automobiles, and hydrogen fuel cells, so this is a good fit for us. Ultimately, we think that this technology might set a new direction for the future of home heat and power."

The Climate Energy Micro-CHP system consists of a small natural gas-powered internal combustion engine and a small electrical generation system that utilizes Honda's sine wave inverter technology. Designed primarily for detached single-family homes, the unit will generate up to 3 kW of thermal output per hour and 1 kW of electricity, while delivering ultra-quiet operation with minimal vibration.

Honda said the system results in more than 85% efficiency in converting fuel energy into useful heat and electric power. "This represents a very large improvement over conventional heating appliances and grid-supplied electric power, and will ultimately provide consumers with a substantial savings in their heating and electrical bills," the company said. "In certain markets, the system will even deliver the ability to sell power back to the grid at full retail value."

Honda also said that the unit is expected to yield a 30% reduction in harmful carbon dioxide emissions as compared with conventional heating appliances and grid supplied electricity. A similar version of Honda's cogeneration unit has been available for general use in Japan since March of 2003.

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