New gas heating solutions
One of GRDF’s public service missions is the development of the use of natural gas. Although we neither sell nor install heating equipment, we work with an extensive ecosystem of partners, including manufacturers, start-ups and R&D centers, to support the development of high-performance and innovative products that take advantage of the great flexibility of gas as a source of energy. Our teams make contributions to all phases of product development, ranging from design and engineering to promotion.
Gas-fueled condensing boilers, which improve efficiency by recovering latent heat from waste gases and using it to pre-heat water, are much more economical to use than conventional gas boilers, achieving energy savings of between 20 and 30%. Thanks to recent innovations, it is possible for householders to achieve even greater energy savings by combining condensing boilers with fuel cells to produce electricity as well as heat thanks to cogeneration, or with electric air-water heat pumps, which make use of atmospheric heat energy to allow significant reductions in energy consumption.
Cogeneration: natural gas produces both heat and electricity
The fuel cell is an innovative and highly energy efficient product that works with natural gas. The technology is based on the principle of micro-cogeneration, providing simultaneous production of heat and electricity.
It is particularly suitable for use in pre-existing well-insulated houses with a high demand for electricity on the one hand and moderate heating and hot water consumption on the other.
A fuel cell converts natural gas into electricity and heat without combustion. The system requires a fuel cell module, a condensing boiler able to top up the home’s heating needs if necessary, and a hot water storage tank.
In the first step, natural gas is processed and transformed into hydrogen. Thanks to the reaction of hydrogen and oxygen in the core of the cell, both heat and electricity are generated. The electrical current is transformed to allow it to be used to power electrical equipment in the home, while the heat that has been generated is recovered and stored in a hot water tank to provide for the dwelling’s heating and hot water needs. Any supplementary needs for heat and domestic hot water are met by an auxiliary condensing boiler.
Hybrid heating uses outside air calories to heat water
Hybrid heat pumps, also known as hybrid boilers, combine a gas condensing boiler with an electric air-water heat pump. Thanks to the combined use of a hybrid boiler and a hybrid heat pump to produce heat, it is possible to switch from electric heat pump to gas boiler and vice versa, which results in a reduction in global energy consumption.
Hybrid heat pumps offer optimal performance because they adapt their mode of operation to the climate conditions:
- In mild weather, the air pump is highly efficient and recovers calories from the external air to provide space heating.
- In cold conditions, the very high energy performance (VHEP) boiler takes over to produce hot water and domestic heat.
The system is governed by a smart regulation system which selects the equipment that will be the most economical to run, according to a range of factors that include the external temperature and the current price of gas and electricity.
Domestic hot water can either be produced by the condensing boiler directly or it can be pre-heated by the heat pump.
The benefits of this hybrid heating system include:
- Energy savings of between 10 and 20% compared to a condensing boiler and up to 40% compared to a traditional gas or oil boiler, and further energy savings compared to the use of a heat pump alone.
- Convenience: the equipment occupies very little space and can be easily retrofitted in existing housing as it does not require low temperature radiators or prior deep renovation.