Home / Blog / Engineering : What Are Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Systems?

Just about all industrial facilities, plants, mills, and manufacturing facilities have a few things in common. First, they all want to find ways to reduce costs and increase efficiency. Second, they require a large amount of power to run. Third, they very likely also require a great deal of heat energy for various industrial processes and heating. Fortunately, there is a solution to meet all of these needs while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions and pollution: Combined Heat and Power Systems.

What Are Combined Heat and Power Systems?

Combined heat and power systems, also known simply as CHP systems,or sometimes as cogeneration systems, are systems designed to simultaneously produce both heat and electricity. The generation of electricity naturally results in the release of heat as a byproduct. However, in basic electric utility systems that heat is allowed to escape into the environment, often through smokestacks along with greenhouse gases, pollution, and other emissions. Often as much as two thirds of the energy released from the fuel source is lost in the way. Combined heat and power systems eliminate that waste by capturing the released heat and deploying it throughout the facility where it can be used for industrial processes or warmth.

What Are the Benefits of Combined Heat and Power Systems?

The most obvious benefits of combined heat and power systems are the reduction in fuel costs and the improvement in fuel efficiency. Instead of burning fuel once to generate electricity, losing the heat produced, and then burning more fuel to make heat, combined heat and power systems harness both to begin with, requiring much less fuel to be used and greatly improving efficiency. With combined heat and power systems efficiency levels may reach an impressive 80-90%. By contrast conventional electricity generation may only be about 35% efficient and standard boilers may only be about 65% efficient.

Burning less fuel also helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions, thus benefiting the environment, while simultaneously relieving strain on the power grid. CHP systems are also routinely used in conjunction with distributed power generation, or DG, which involves generating the power on-site instead of at large-scale utility plants and then distributing it across a power grid. Together CHP and DG dramatically reduce operational costs for the facility using them while improving energy security and efficiency.

How Quality Engineering Impacts Combined Heat and Power Systems

With all of the benefits of combined heat and power systems and distributed power generation it would be understandable if all industrial and manufacturing companies wanted to rush out and buy one for their facilities immediately. However, implementation of these systems requires a great deal of expertise and care. It also requires a full overhaul of existing systems and building out of the new system. During this process systems engineers must carefully analyze the entire system and oversee its implementation to ensure that it will run safely and efficiently. Polaris is proud to be at the forefront of combined heat and power systems implementation and to offer this extremely valuable service to our clients.

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