Product, Service & Design Innovation
Startup Hoping to Turn Computers Into Primary Source of Heat Generation

New York City-based tech startup Project Exergy is one step closer to developing a technology capable of heating smart homes using computers, following a successful crowdfunding campaign.

The concept involves transferring the computation done in data centers into millions of home and office computers and putting the normally wasted heat to use through a liquid cooling system that can efficiently extract and thermally store the high-temperature heat.

Founded by a team of energy, software, data center, finance and engineering professionals, Project Exergy says it has created a high-performance computer prototype designed to run as hot as possible so it can thermally store heat energy and use it to power a building's water heating, HVAC and refrigeration systems.

The first 'Maker Movement'-inspired prototype is constructed with modified off-the-shelf components that can be purchased from any computer and hardware store. This unit, called "Henry," stores thermal energy in an organic, nanoparticle-infused phase change material. This material allows the thermal energy needed to power the average home to be stored in a very compact space.

Project Exergy says its current prototype computer can capture and store the heat it generates, and then apply that heat as needed in order to heat and eventually cool homes.

Smart homes are on the verge of entering the mainstream. Honda last year unveiled its net zero energy "Smart Home" on the UC Davis campus. The company said the building, which includes a charging facility for a Honda Fit EV and is intended to demonstrate Honda's vision for zero-carbon living and personal mobility, will on average generate more electricity from on-site renewable energy than it receives from the local utility.

To help make the business case for smart buildings, Impact Infrastructure in January released AutoCASE, a cloud-based tool that enables triple-bottom line business case analysis to become an integrated part of a Building Information Modeling (BIM) project design workflow. The analysis tool goes beyond exploring only the engineering aspects of a design to embrace an accounting framework with three parts: social, environmental and financial.

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