Honda Motor announced it will begin sales of a new model for its household MCHP (Micro Combined Heat and Power) gas engine cogeneration unit in November 2012, through gas utilities across Japan. Building on its well-received predecessors that have served as the core unit in the ECOWILL household cogeneration system,which runs by burning natural gas or LPG (liquefied propane gas) for electricity generation and using the exhaust heat for hot water supply and heating, the new model has an autonomous operation function that enables system use in a power outage or other emergencies.
In the aftermath of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, a market need has arisen for a cogeneration system that can be used even during a power outage. The new household gas engine cogeneration unit MCHP1.0R with an autonomous operation function was accordingly developed based on a power generation unit that underwent a full model change in 2011. The new model is the power generation unit of ECOWILL PLUS, a new gas engine cogeneration system for electricity generation, hot water supply, and heating, which will be put on sale through gas utilities. Power can be generated independent of the utility grid by simply pulling the unit's starter grip to start the engine. Maximum power output during autonomous operation is approximately 980 W, which is supplied through a dedicated outlet to provide night lighting and to enable operation of a television and a personal computer for gathering information. Hot water for a bath and a floor heating system can also be available during an outage.
In 2003, Honda began sales of its first compact household cogeneration unit, which combined a gas engine with Honda's original sine-wave inverter power generation technology. The unit underwent a full model change in 2011 as MCHP1.0K2, featuring Honda's EXlink (Extended Expansion Linkage Engine), featuring an expansion stroke longer than its intake stroke, resulting in a high expansion ratio for greatly increased thermal and fuel efficiency. With EXlink and Honda's original power generation technologies, MCHP1.0K2 achieves power generation efficiency of 26.3%. In addition, thanks to its highly-efficient heat circulation system that thoroughly recovers the heat generated by the engine, MCHP1.0K2 achieves combined power and heat generation efficiency of 92.0%. Under the brand name ECOWILL, cogeneration systems composed of the Honda cogeneration unit and a water heater that uses exhaust heat have been sold by gas utilities across Japan and installed in approximately 120,000 households.
Along with Honda's distinctive generator technologies, gas-powered household cogeneration units and solar power generation systems using thin-film solar panels are among the featured products in Honda's home power generation business, which supports ecological household energy production and consumption to help realize low-carbon society of the future.
Key features of the small, gas-powered household cogeneration unit with an autonomous operation function:
- As long as gas and water are supplied, the system can be started independent of the utility grid and generates electric power whether or not the system is in operation when a power outage occurs.
- During a power outage, maximum electric power consumption of up to approximately 980 W (AC 100 V, 980 VA) is possible through use of a dedicated outlet for the autonomous operation, which was designed exclusively for ECOWILL PLUS.
- Honda's portable generator technology enables easy and smooth starting of the unit through the built-in mechanical recoil starter for the autonomous operation.
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