Propane heating and cooling technologies offer cost-effective, energy-efficient alternatives to traditional heating, cooling, and humidity control systems.

PERC research supports the development, demonstration, and commercialization of propane heating and cooling technologies, including combined heat and power technology, desiccant dehumidification, integrated space and water heating, pool heating, and gas cooling.

11-ton Propane Engine-Driven Heat Pump

Docket:16939, 12314

Gas engine-driven heat pumps can be mounted on either the roof or ground for cooling and heating in residential or commercial applications. Blue Mountain Energy, Southwest Gas, IntelliChoice, and the Departments of Energy and Defense developed and demonstrated a 10-ton propane engine-driven heat-pump rooftop unit, and are currently developing and demonstrating an engine control system that will reduce system emissions and prepare an 11-ton heat pump for commercialization. The 11-ton heat pump will serve as a platform for future propane-based, engine-driven, heat and power products.

Auxiliary Propane Heaters on School Buses

Docket:12070

Propane-fueled auxiliary heaters heat engine coolant and recirculate the heat to warm bus engines and interiors without idling the engine. Researchers explored the use of auxiliary propane heaters on school buses as a clean, low-cost alternative to diesel-fired auxiliary heaters or prolonged idling of the engine. Through this effort, researchers examined health benefits, characterized the market, and conducted a life-cycle cost analysis.

Combined Heat and Power Applications

Docket:10954, 10637

Combined heat and power systems provide heat and generate electricity with higher efficiency and lower emissions levels than conventional heating and power generation alternatives. Researchers have evaluated and demonstrated an engine-driven, propane-fueled power generation set and microturbine, addressed CHP market uncertainties, obtained market share data, and explored the fuel flexibility and system performance of a propane-fueled unit in comparison to a natural-gas-fired system.

Direct Vent Wall Furnace

Docket:16726

Direct-vent wall furnace systems fueled by propane automatically adjust heat output and fan speed to respond to changes in temperature and maintain a more consistent level of heat in comparison with forced warm-air central heating systems. In this study, the Gas Technology Institute and the CanmetEnergy Research Centre conducted third-party performance testing of the commercially available Rinnai direct-vent wall furnace system fueled by propane. By installing the system in a real house and running it in parallel with another house using a central heating system for five consecutive weeks, researchers verified the benefits of direct-vent propane-fueled furnaces, such as lower electricity consumption and more consistent and reliable heating.

Gas Cooling Technologies Study

Docket:11957

Propane-fueled cooling technologies efficiently reduce indoor humidity and cool indoor air. In this study, researchers assessed the current state of fuel-fired cooling technologies that can be used as propane-fired cooling systems, outlined the technical challenges to improving efficiency and cost, and suggested a course of development and demonstration.

Heat Pump Pool Heater

Docket:10866

Propane heaters can warm pools and spas more quickly than electric heat pumps and can maintain heat better in cold weather. Researchers developed and tested propane-fueled heat pump pool heater prototypes that produce 100,000 British thermal units of heat, completed a final heat pump design, and certified the unit’s safety.

NovelAire Desiccant Dehumidifier

Docket:12569, 11552

NovelAire’s ComfortDry 400 system is a propane-fueled desiccant dehumidifier that controls indoor humidity in a cost-effective and energy-efficient manner. As part of the development process, NovelAire thoroughly tested the system and quantified its market potential. NovelAire is working to commercialize the ComfortDry 400 through securing Energy Star certification, developing a marketer sales guide, and demonstrating 20 units in four states.

Residential Integrated Space and Water Heating System

Docket:11110, 10181

A residential integrated space and water heating system fueled by propane is a high-efficiency air distribution technology that offers increased cost and energy savings and meets the space requirements of HUD-code manufactured homes. Researchers developed specifications for a propane-fueled unit for water and space heating in manufactured homes, and estimated heating loads for homes of various sizes in three heating zones.

Rinnai Tankless Heater System

Docket:15213

The Rinnai Tankless Heater System is a propane-fueled combination heat pump and tankless water heater. Researchers tested the efficiency and performance of the Rinnai system and compared it to two standard electric heat pump/water heater systems of like capacity using realistic water heating and space heating laboratory simulations.

Road Construction and Maintenance Study

Docket:15208, 15207, 12201

Road construction and maintenance activities require a reliable and portable fuel source. For this study, researchers examined the technical and economic feasibility of using propane heat to assist in drying wet subbase in transportation earthwork projects, surveyed state highway agencies to identify markets using the hot in-place recycling method for road rehabilitation and reconstruction, and determined the feasibility of using propane for other transportation applications, including snow removal.     

TEMP-AIR Heat Treatment for Bedbugs

Docket:16725, 12221

Propane-fueled heaters can serve as a non-chemical approach to controlling bedbug infestations in hotels, residences, schools, and hospitals. Researchers tested bedbug response to heat and heat transfer in mattresses to validate the efficacy of Temp-Air heat systems and determined the temperatures that are lethal to adult bedbugs and bedbug eggs. Based on this research, Temp-Air is developing a towable propane-fueled system to control bedbugs and field-testing this unit in collaboration with local pest control companies.