Monday, October 22, 2007

Money down the drain and back up again...

Keeping with this week's theme of getting clean, we're still in the bathroom (kind of). RenewABILITY Energy, Inc has an unfortunately named product that I desperately need to see in action.

I'm stoked if the Power-Pipe™ works as it claims, because the technology could be easily tweaked and retweaked over the next decade (I think it's still in version 1.0), pulling a ton of heat loss back into buildings and homes. However, I can't imagine that all the heat-conducive copper comes at a cheap price.

Here's the gist...basically, the warmer waste water in the drain pipe warms up the incoming cold water before it reaches your hot water heater...kind of like putting hot water in a tea kettle before you boil it. Might not work as efficiently down south, but it's obvious to see why it would help those in the frozen north.

From their Website:

Drain-water clings to the inside pipe wall and falls quickly creating a thin “falling-film” which quickly imparts its heat to the pipe wall. Copper is used for both the inner pipe and outer tube, and its conductivity has a heat transfer rate that is 4-6x greater than other classes of heat exchanger on a surface area basis...

The heat from this film is transferred easily and efficiently to the cold water circulating in the Power-Pipe™ around the outside of the drainpipe.

The incoming cold water is preheated before going into the water heater and plumbing fixtures, saving money and energy while increasing shower-capacity. A sixty inch Power-Pipe™ unit can bring the cold water temperature up from 10 degrees C to as much as 24 degrees C, under equal flow conditions. If it is connected to only the water heater or only the cold water fixtures, the savings is less but the temperature rises up to about 28 degrees C.

Power-Pipe™ raises the temperature of incoming cold water by recycling free heat from waste-water going down the drain. About 90% of all hot water energy goes down the drain, allowing the Power-Pipe™ to recycle as much as 60% of the wasted heat. The more hot water you use, the more energy you save.