The following post has been submitted by ECW reader Bård Havre.
Where I live, in Norway, we (still) have cold winters. Heat pumps are the most popular way of heating private houses. They cost about 2 500 USD to install, and provide around 4-5 kW of heat for each kW of power from the 220V local grid. In recent years the normal cost for 1 kWh has been around 1 krone, 10 cents US. In the last months, due to extraordinary weather in Europe, soaring natural gas prices, and the fact that the Norwegian grid is connected to the European grid, the costs have doubled, even quadrupled on some days. Time for innovation.
I have a HeatPump myself,and am considering powering it from about 10 Cats in parallel. As of now, little detail is known about the Cat’s output, so it is difficult to give a detailed blueprint, but we know that the Cat is best suited for running electronic devices, so it should have a smooth DC output, or an AC 110-240V of 50-60 Hz, with a pure sine wave. It has been said earlier that it is not well suited for directly powering electric motors, or other reactive loads, so some intermediary steps are neccessary. It may look like this:
1W→Ecat 1kW→Charger→Battery powerbank (5Kwh 12-24V) →Inverter single phase (1-2 kW, 110-240 V, 50-60 Hz AC) →HeatPump/Airconditioner →5kW of heating/cooling. This gives you a factor of 3-4+ of improvement over connecting directly to an electric heater.
All the necessary compenents are off-the-shelf items, and can be found on E-bay, AliBaba, …whatever. Additional cost about the same as the 10 Cats, excluding the the HeatPump/Air conditioner.
Total cost, 20 Cats, output 40-50 Cats at max power. Payback depends on how long and cold the winter is, or how long and hot summer is, but I would think that after 4-5 years you will have free heating/cooling.
Assuming the lifetime of the Cats exceeds100 000 hrs, and the lifetime of the Heatpump is about the same, you should have 7+ years of free heating/cooling. It may well be that this is somewhat overengineered, but these are early days.
A similar approach may be taken with electric water heaters.
The main thing to consider is that the Cats should run at max power most of the time, to get a short payback time. Thus they should be used for powering continuous base loads.
At present cost is a major factor. The retail price of 2 500 USD per kW of power is steep. It will come down. Manufacturing cost is lower, much lower. Using weight as an indicator, with 2.5 kg/kW, one should expect a cost per kilogram in the same range as similar mass-produced items, like cars, microwave ovens… Cars are about 20 USD/kg on average, this would indicate a manufacturing cost of 50 USD/kg.
In time it will trend down from there. Given the normal 4-5 times increase from manufacturer to retailer/consumer, we land at 250 USD/kW, which will be the bargain of this millennium. When? Only Rossi knows.
Other possible applications:
Powering Data-processing. Data processing is consuming a considerable amount of electricity, and most of the infrastructure run continuously. So Server Farms, Crypto Miners, and similar will buy truckloads of these when they come to market in large enough quantities. We are talking about Gigawatts of power for these, and all other data and telecom infrastructure worldwide. Crypto alone uses more power than some countries!
2-4 kW would give most EVs max. range over 24 hours of charging. With the device in the car, range would be almost unlimited for most driving, excluding endurance racing. A wide range of configurations with smaller batteries, supercapcitors, more Ecat power like 30 kW, that would give unlimited range, lower weight, and lower cost can be imagined. Similar
systems for all sorts of trucks, excavators…trains…trams…buses…airplanes…the list is endless.
Marine applications: Charging batteries in all sorts of pleasure crafts, foremost sailing boats, that run their diesels sparingly, and mainly rely on wind/solar as backup solutions. They have purchasing power, and this is half the price of the competition. Charging batteries on larger crafts with electric propulsion, or directly powering the electric drivetrain. There are quite a few Megawatt diesel electric systems afloat.
To put it in perspective, if Andrea Rossi manages to make one million Ecats in a year or two, and doubles his output every year for the next ten years, he will still be far short of the output needed satisfy market demand. To keep global warming below 1.5 degrees C in 30 years, we need to replace about 5 000 GW of grid power coming from fossil fuel, and then add some to accomodate for a growing population. That target is well above 5+ million Ecats with 100W output, PER DAY, for the grid alone, for the next 30 years! 500 MegaWatt per day, 100+ Large Windmills, or Acres and Acres of solar panels.
Can it be done. Can we afford it? I strongly believe the answers to both questions is yes! I shall elucidate on that when more facts on the Ecat become available.
I could go on forever, but I want my order of 10 Cats first, so I can test for myself if they perform as promised.
Until then, to all Ecat followers, Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year.