Product Announcement: Efficient Water Heater and Space Cooler Could Lead to Net Zero Energy Restaurants

by | Mar 13, 2019

A new high efficiency, ultra-low emissions commercial water heating and space cooling unit, which begins field demonstrations at two Southern California restaurants this week, could dish out energy savings, lower operating costs, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions for foodservice and hospitality facility operators.

That’s according to Stone Mountain Technologies, Inc. (SMTI), maker of the new technology, which uses a thermally driven heat pump fueled by natural gas or propane to capture ambient energy, achieving a heating efficiency of 140% or greater. It is projected to reduce energy use by 30 to 50% compared to standard natural gas water heaters. The highly-efficient heat pump also provides space cooling simultaneously, which reduces the need for air conditioning and can help lessen electricity use.

Stone Mountain Technologies developed the new heat pump by redesigning heat pump technology traditionally used for cooling and focusing it on heating with cost-effectiveness and scalability in mind. GTI is leading the demonstration, and AO Smith Corporation is also providing support. Project funding was awarded by the California Energy Commission and Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) research and development funds authorized by the California Public Utilities Commission.

Unlike other electrically-driven heat pump systems that use environmentally damaging hydrofluorocarbons, the new heat pump’s ammonia/water refrigerant has zero ozone depletion and zero global warming potential. It was recently certified as Ultra-Low NOx per South Coast Air Quality Management District requirements.

In the last five years, SoCalGas energy efficiency programs have saved more than 146 million therms. SoCalGas’ vision is to be the cleanest natural gas utility in North America, delivering affordable and increasingly renewable energy to its customers. Earlier this month, SoCalGas announced a bold plan to replace 20% of its traditional natural gas supply with renewable natural gas by 2030.

“With nearly 90,000 restaurants in California, this emerging product could enable the proliferation of Zero Net Energy Restaurants,” said Paul Glanville of GTI and principal investigator of the project.

In 2017, California’s Long Beach Water Department launched a program to certify local restaurants as being water and energy efficient. Called the Certified Blue Restaurant Program, it recognizes eateries that have “exceptional” water efficiency.

In order to meet the certification requirements, a restaurant must have kitchen hand sinks with a half-gallon per minute rate or lower, an Energy Star-certified dishwasher, toilets that have a rate of 1.6 gallons per flush or lower, restroom faucets with a half-gallon-per-minute rate or lower, and pre-rinse spray valves that have a rate of 1.1 gallons per minute or lower. Where applicable, the program also requires that restaurants have air-cooled ice machines, dipper wells that are heated or use non-continuous flow technology, a pressure washer and/or water broom, and connectionless or boilerless food steamers.

The 4th Annual Environmental Leader & Energy Manager Conference takes place May 13 – 15, 2019 in Denver. Learn more here.


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