Holtec International has announced the HI-HEAT District Heater System that would end reliance on burning gas to heat homes and businesses around the world, “especially the East European democracies desperately dependent on it during the winter months”.
The system comprises two modules called the Preservator and the Steam Chest. The Preservator preserves stored heat, while the Steam Chest, a smaller insulated vessel, serves to maintain maintains an inventory of steam to stabilise the supply system. With no moving parts or "life-limiting constituents", Holtec said.
The largest factory-manufactured system envisaged is the HI-HEAT 100, a 29.3 MWh system that can deliver cycle steam at the desired rate of flow to a district heating grid. "If adequately replenished with intermittent surplus electric power from the grid, the HI-HEAT systems can be sized to deliver heating steam continuously and indefinitely. Because there is no limit on the number of systems that can be deployed in parallel at any site, there is no limit on the supply of steam available for district heating or any other application."
The HI-HEAT system is charged by the surplus power from the grid, i.e., when the available power exceeds the concomitant consumption. The source of electrical energy, preferably nuclear, solar or wind, may be hundreds of miles away from the district heater.
HI-HEAT 100 is the largest practical system that can be shop manufactured and field installed. A smaller capacity HI-HEAT, say HI-HEAT 60 (60 million BTU or 17.6 MWh capacity) will be 60% of the height of HI-HEAT 100 but will be otherwise identical in anatomical details.
The HI-HEAT system has no moving parts or life-limiting constituents and thus should be reasonably expected to serve satisfactorily for many, many decades, Holtec noted. Unlike Lithium-ion batteries, the decommissioning of the HI-HEAT system will involve no disposal of hazardous materials.
In most cases, HI-HEAT 100 will simply retire and replace the existing gas boiler. Holtec expects to manufacture the HI-HEAT systems locally in the region where they will be used. 90% of the materials needed to build the system can be sourced locally. Having the HI-HEAT systems erected and commissioned during the coming winter in gas-shortage afflicted areas is feasible.
“We think burning gas extracted from the land to pollute the environment is scandalous misuse of a natural resource that is best used to manufacture valuable industrial materials such as chemicals, plastics and the like,” said Holtec’s CEO and Chief Technology Officer, Dr Kris Singh. “We envision the HI-HEAT district heating systems to be powered by the operating nuclear plants in the near term and by our SMR-160 advanced light water reactors in the next decade when we hope to begin commissioning our reactors in increasingly larger numbers to decarbonise the global environment.”
Image: Holtec's HI-HEAT District Heater System (photo courtesy of Holtec)