SoCalGas invests over $7 million each year on research, development and demonstration of new and emerging clean, energy-efficient technologies.
Our goal is to bring these technologies to residential, commercial and industrial markets to help people reduce their energy use.
From residential and clean transportation applications to renewables, here are some examples of projects we've invested in:
- Zero energy homes
Homes built from the ground up to be so efficient that they are net producers of energy through the use of solar and other technologies.
- Automated Building Diagnostics and Control Systems
Intelligent software to identify energy system operating problems and recommend repairs. These "smart" systems can "continuously optimize" buildings' energy use, saving energy while improving indoor air quality and occupant comfort.
- Field Demonstration at Steel Mill
SoCalGas is co-sponsoring an ongoing field demonstration of a new burner technology (RASERT) on an annealing furnace at a local steel mill located in southern California. The Reverse Annulus Single Ended Radiant Tube (RASERT) burner is a new low-emissions energy efficient burner technology, with up to 69% net NOX emissions reduction over conventional burner technologies, achieved from both a lower average internal flame temperature and a 17%—27% increase in fuel efficiency.
- "Super Boiler"
We're demonstrating high-efficiency and low-emissions boilers for commercial and industrial steam processes. This new boiler has the capabilities to increase energy efficiency from 80% to above 90% and to reduce NOx emissions from 12 ppm to below 9 ppm.
- Advanced Hydrogen Production
This project is working to convert natural gas to hydrogen for use in fuel cells in a variety of industries such as electronics, metal processing and glass manufacturing.
Commercial Food Service
- Wok, Wok, Wok
SoCalGas is co-sponsoring a project to significantly increase the efficiency of commercial wok ranges that are commonly used in Asian style restaurants. Working in conjunction with a popular Asian fast food chain, research entity and manufacturer, we're developing design for a burner retrofit package. We have identified technology that will increase the efficiency to over 20%, while maintaining the current production level of woks. Current wok ranges use a burner system with an efficiency of 10 to 15%. Field demonstrations will be initiated at several chain locations in early 2009.
- Low Oil Volume Fryer
SoCalGas is co-sponsoring the development of a high efficiency fryer that will also reduce oil requirements. The low oil volume fryer reduces operational costs by reducing the required volume of oil used to cook from about 50 pounds for a typical deep fat fryer to about 30 pounds. Gas Technology Institute has completed designs on the unit and is working with a leading manufacturer to develop prototype units for field demonstrations which will be initiated in early 2009.
- Gas-fired Warewasher
SoCalGas is co-sponsoring the development of a high efficiency commercial restaurant warewasher. Development work has been completed by Gas Technology Institute and a leading manufacturer on this new unit using high efficiency burner technology. Two field prototype units are scheduled for testing in southern California starting in early 2009 to validate performance.
Power Generation Applications
- Zero Emissions Power Plants
The next generation of high efficiency power plants uses pure oxygen rather than air for combustion. This makes it easy to capture the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions for long-term underground storage. This avoids releasing the CO2 into the atmosphere, and instead the stored CO2 can be used for enhanced oil recovery.
- Combined Heat and Power (CHP)
Developing various technologies to demonstrate the benefits of producing electric power and using the exhaust heat to heat water or to provide space cooling.
- Advanced Flywheel Power Systems
Designed to provide high power output and energy storage in a compact, self-contained package, these flywheel technologies are a long lasting, low maintenance, lightweight, and environmentally-sound alternative to lead-acid batteries.
Clean Transportation Applications (Natural Gas Vehicles)
- In-Home Refueling
Demonstrating the benefits of using in-home refueling equipment to fill natural gas vehicles (NGVs). SoCalGas has been involved in the field testing of six residential refueling compressor systems throughout the Los Angeles area. Find out much more about NGVs at our Natural Gas Vehicles home page.
- CNG Port Project
SoCalGas, with support from several other entities, is demonstrating the viability of four CNG fuel powered Class 8 drayage trucks at the Port of Los Angeles location. The trucks will be retrofitted with new CNG Cummins/Westport ISL G engines that already meet 2010 CARB emission standards. This effort will support the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach Clean Air Action Plan. The trucks will be leased for three years and will be operated by Cal Cartage. The project is being cofunded by the Los Angeles and Long Beach Port Authorities and by the SCAQMD. In addition of demonstrating the trucks, construction of a refueling station is also planned.
Certain businesses--like dairies, food processing companies and waste water treatment plants--produce organic waste that can be repurposed into a clean, renewable fuel source called biogas. When biogas is conditioned to pipeline-quality natural gas, it becomes biomethane. By converting the waste to energy, we're also helping to reduce levels of harmful greenhouse gases. Find out more on our biogas and biomethane page.
- Incentives for BioSolids Processing
EnerTech's Rialto Regional Biosolids Processing Facility aims to convert roughly 883 wet tons per day of biosolid waste--from five municipalities in the Los Angeles area--into 167 dry tons per day of renewable fuel. To help, SoCalGas provided a $1 million incentive through our Savings by Design program. With the renewable fuel, EnerTech should save enough energy each year to heat over 13,000 homes during the winter.
- Solar-Thermal Cooling
Solar-thermal cooling uses a simple refrigeration cycle to provide both cool air and hot water from a single unit.
Other emerging technologies we're evaluating
- Lighting Systems
Includes advanced light-emitting diode (LED) fixtures and systems to bring indirect natural light into buildings.
- "Cool" roofs, coatings, paints and other new building materials that contain solar reflectants
These simple, durable, passive technologies deliver energy efficiency over the entire lifetime of a building.
- Super-efficient water heaters; solar thermal systems
This new generation of water heaters uses thicker insulation and may employ solar collectors or heat pumps to generate additional heat.
- Advanced thin-film photo-voltaic (PV) solar power systems
A more efficient way to capture a larger quantity of solar energy.
- New evaporative cooling technology
An updated, high efficiency version of a traditional, low-cost swamp cooler.
- Field Demonstration at Steel Mill