The Department of Energy selected a team of appliance industry leaders - Rheem Manufacturing, the Gas Appliance Manufacturer's Association, the Propane Education and Research Council, and TIAX - to develop a combined heat and power system for residential use that will provide more reliable and less costly energy.

The system, known as a micro-combined heat and power system, will generate electricity and then use the rejected heat for other household purposes, such as space and water heating. The prototype also will provide emergency power to the home when grid power is lost.

Currently, manufacturers have commercialized micro-CHP systems in Europe and Japan, but these products are not designed for use in homes with forced-air heating, which most U.S. homes have. Nor do they provide back-up electricity.

The DOE project will be divided into several phases of work. The first phase of the project, lasting about a year, will involve system analysis and design. Subsequent phases will focus on prototype development and testing.