A British company is developing a fuel cell boiler that runs on propane. This device could provide heat, water and electricity for the average home.
The propane burning fuel cell boiler should be available for home use in the UK in 2012 according to a press release from UK fuel cell company, Ceres Power. Ceres Power is developing the boiler in conjunction with British propane company Calor Gas. The two companies believe that by stacking several propane powered fuel cells it should be possible to make enough electricity, heat and hot water for the average home’s needs.
No announcement about when these devices would be available in North America has been made yet. If they’re successful these boilers should be very popular in rural areas of the US and Canada where propane is already the most popular heating fuel.
How Fuel Cell Boilers Work
Fuel cells use a chemical reaction rather than a flame to create heat which warms water for heating and other uses. The chemical reaction also creates electricity which would be fed directly into a home’s electrical system.
According to its press releases, Ceres believes that such a boiler could provide up to 80% of the average family’s electrical needs. This means that a family that uses such a boiler in conjunction with other power sources such as a generator or solar power could generate all of its own electricity.
Ceres is working with utility British Gas to create a similar system that works on natural gas. According to some press reports this system could be available in the UK this year.
Natural gas is the most popular heating fuel in both the United Kingdom and North America.
The fuel cell boilers would be about the same size and shape as a normal boiler. Such a boiler would replace a home’s existing boiler and be connected to existing heating systems and gas lines. This means the propane model would work directly off existing propane tanks found in most rural homes.
Propane powered fuel cell boilers would undoubtedly be very popular on farms, at second homes in rural areas and at businesses in the countryside. They could also qualify American homeowners for federal tax credits on fuel cells.
Ceres has not announced when it will make this technology available in the US and Canada. When it does, its sure to be very popular in rural areas particularly in the US where propane is the fuel of choice for boilers.