NORA will have a strong educational and technical presence at the upcoming Eastern Energy Expo in Atlantic City, NJ.
Three important NORA Business Track sessions begin with In the Loop–New Business & Education Opportunities on Tuesday, May 23 at 8:15am in Room 419 at the Atlantic City Convention Center. This session features NORA’s President, Michael Devine and Director of Education, Bob O’Brien along with the introduction of NORA’s most recent team addition, Dr. Jenny Frank.
On Wednesday, May 24 at 8am (breakfast provided by NORA and Clean Fuels America) in Room 412, NORA is hosting the Featured Session,The Industry’s Response to Carbon Reduction where you will hear a panel offering the most current information on the research, field work, personal experiences and future technologies to show how becoming a low carbon fuel marketer is well within the grasp of a liquid fuel heating retailer. The panel features Michael Devine and Dr. Thomas Butcher, NORA; Kevin Beckett, R.W. Beckett Corp.; Rich Lyons, Carlin Combustion Technologies; Jackie Hart, Hart Home Comfort; Jason Lawrence, Chevron/REG and moderator Don Farrell, Indoor Comfort Marketing.
As one of the 220 exhibitors at the Eastern Energy Expo Trade Show, NORA will be showing live-fire demonstrations of biodiesel and renewable diesel in its outdoor exhibit OD2.
NORA’s recently released podcast series, In the Loop with NORA will be on-hand at the expo to talk with a variety of industry experts about how the liquid fuels heating industry is removing carbon emissions from home heating.
The Eastern Energy Expo is the largest energy and indoor comfort event in the Northeast. You can find more about the NORA sessions, the entire Eastern Energy Expo program, the trade show and registration at the Eastern Energy Expo website.
Dr. Jenny Frank has joined NORA as a Research Associate to further advance its work in the field of carbon reduction from home heating. Her time will be divided among NORA research strategies and projects while maintaining her position in academia.
Dr. Frank is an Assistant Professor of Renewable Energy at the State University of New York at Morrisville (SUNY Morrisville) where she teaches courses pertaining to energy systems, economics, and policy. She received her Ph.D. from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF) where she studied renewable energy pathways. Dr. Frank’s research focuses on techno-economic analysis to qualify the long-term environmental, financial, and technical viability of diverse energy technologies and feedstocks. Dr. Frank has published several studies in various peer-reviewed journals.
According to NORA’s Director of Research, Dr. Thomas Butcher. “Dr. Frank provides NORA with specific expertise on renewable energies and their long-term viability. As we continue to push further and further towards Zero-Carbon home heating, Dr. Frank will be a valuable asset to NORA and the liquid heating fuel industry.”
Michael Devine, NORA’ President added, “We are very pleased that Dr. Frank has joined the NORA team as a Research Associate. Dr. Frank and Dr. Butcher are going collaborate and continue to expand our activities at NORA, as well as identify additional research & development opportunities as we continue on the path to eliminating carbon from home heating.”
The National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA) is setting out to prove that homeowners can reduce a home’s carbon emissions to zero using a renewable low carbon liquid fuel and solar panels. Indeed, the demonstration has already begun in Port Jefferson, NY at the home of NORA’s Director of Research, Dr. Thomas Butcher.
NORA has been a leader in the transition to low carbon liquid fuels in the home heating sector for decades through testing and promoting the use of the advanced biofuel biodiesel combined with traditional heating oil. NORA’s liquid fuels research laboratory in Plainview, NY is among the U.S.’s leading facilities conducting this type of research.
With public policy in many of the Northeastern states calling for drastic reductions in carbon emissions and traditional heating oil cannot satisfy those requirements, NORA intends to show that the combination of 100% biodiesel partnered with solar panels can bring the home to zero carbon emissions.
This strategy is an alternative to the “all electric” policy of replacing all combustion heating and other home appliances with power-grid run electric furnaces, boilers and appliances.
The all-electric plan will place enormous strain on the utilities and the grid while also placing massive financial burdens on homeowners as they are required to replace their current heating systems with heat pumps. NORA’s zero-carbon home can achieve carbon reduction mostly using existing heating systems and commercially available solar panel systems.
Taking the carbon out of the fuel: The first step in decarbonizing a home heating system is transitioning to a low carbon biofuel. The biofuel widely available to the heating market in the Northeast is biodiesel (ASTM D6751). Relative to petroleum No. 2 fuel, 100% biodiesel (B100) provides a carbon reduction of 75% to 90% with the higher 90% reduction based on the use of waste feed stocks such as used cooking oil. Replacing petroleum with B100 can provide reductions in carbon of up to 90%.
Work is ongoing within the biodiesel industry on reducing even the small amount of carbon emissions associated with biodiesel production and the picture is expected to get even better. The residual emissions can be minimized using a high-efficiency boiler of furnace.
The transition to B100 was made at the Butcher home in 2020 with the biodiesel fuel supplied by Hart Home Comfort, Oakdale, NY. The steel tank is indoors and approximately 15 years old. The tank was filled without cleaning prior to the introduction to B100. There have been no notable service issues since the transition. The heating system includes an Energy Kinetics System 2000, about 10 years old.
Adding Solar Panels: The second step is the addition of solar panels on the roof of the home, which can produce more or less power than the home needs at any time of the day. The system installed at Butcher’s home does not include a storage battery but rather “extra” power is exported back to the grid. The home’s historical annual electric power use is 7,199 kilowatt hours, including a central air conditioning system. The annual production capacity of the solar panels installed is a nominal 7,914 kilowatt hours. In addition to eliminating carbon associated with power used in the home, the surplus power sent back to the grid reduces carbon emissions further and provides an offset to the small amount of carbon emissions associated with the biodiesel use.
Making Financial Sense: The solar panel system at Butcher’s home was installed by Long Island Power Solutions, Ronkonkoma, NY. The State and Federal Governments offered financial incentives for installing solar panels, making the installation attractive.
At the time the installation was planned, the residential power rate was approximately $0.23 per kilowatt hour. At this rate, the payback period was calculated at seven years with an effective annual payback of 14.3%. At the time of this writing, it has risen to $0.28 per kilowatt hour making the payback period drop to 5.74 years after which, the electric cost will effectively be zero.
“With uncertainty about future rates, I feel this was a great step to eliminate electric bills,” noted Dr. Butcher.
“These steps to quickly make my home carbon-free have been very easy, I didn’t make any changes to my heating system. The investment I have made in the solar panels will pay back quickly and I feel we are ready for the upcoming decades with a system that keeps us warm, provides plenty of hot water, and will end up being the cheapest approach.”
NORA’s Net Zero Carbon Home will continue to be monitored for financial returns and greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction values and upgrades to further the carbon emission reductions will be assessed.
NORA would like to extend the Zero-Carbon Home project to other U.S. States. If you have an interest in working with NORA, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
NORA’s goal is to create demonstration homes that are be net-zero emitters of carbon. Labeled the Net Zero Carbon Home Project, the homes will replace standard heating fuel with 100% biodiesel (B100) while relying on solar PV roof panels to generate renewable, carbon free electricity for non-heating uses. Since biodiesel is not yet fully carbon neutral, the solar PV system needed to be sized to produce more energy than the home requires. The excess carbon-free electricity could then be transferred back to the grid and offset the small amount of carbon emissions from biodiesel.
A calculator created by NORA utilizes a number of parameters such as fuel usage and electricity consumption to calculate how much oversizing of the PV system is required to make the home carbon neutral. The following table shows a sample calculation.
Table 1: Sample calculations that show how a home can be carbon neutral using biodiesel and solar PV Click image to enlarge.
The first of these demonstrations is the home of Dr. Thomas Butcher, Director of Research of the NORA Liquid Fuels Laboratory in Plainview, NY. Dr. Butcher’s home was already using B100 for heating and subsequently solar PV panels were installed for the non-heating energy needs.
Using biodiesel consumption (due to hot water production), electrical usage and power generated by PV system, it was found that Butcher’s home was Net-Zero (and beyond) for the months of July, August and September 2022. This is shown in the figure below with comparative values of carbon emissions if he had been using No. 2 heating oil and did not have solar PV installed.
Despite a significant airconditioning load in the summer, as shown by the blue bars, each of the summer months contributed to a lowering of the carbon intensity of the grid by producing more energy than was used in the house, as shown by the brown bars.
The question as we enter the winter and biodiesel consumption increases, will the solar on his roof and the savings from the summer be enough to make his house a Net Zero home for the entire year. Preliminary calculations say “yes” but look forward to an update in the spring of 2023.
NORA is working with various state energy organizations to find additional suitable homes for this project.
Figure 1: Carbon emission comparison for Butcher home with and without proposed changes (B100 and solar PV) Click image to enlarge.
The National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA) has announced the appointment of Michael Devine as incoming President following the retirement of current President John Huber effective March 1, 2022. Devine comes to NORA after having served as Vice President of Sales & Business Development for World Energy.
As part of the Senior Management Team, he managed day to day activities for sales and volumes at terminals, prepared monthly and annual budgets and developed key national accounts including FedEx, UPS, Chevron, Ryder, The Union Pacific Railroad and others. Prior to his time at World Energy, he was the CEO and founder of Earth Energy Alliance where he assisted the petroleum distribution industry in reducing the carbon footprint of their fuel by increasing the use of renewable liquid fuels.
Devine has deep roots in the oilheat industry. He began his career in his family’s business, Devine Brothers of Norwalk, CT. He started as a truck driver and service technician, growing into roles as sales manager, vice president and president of the 50+ employee, third- generation business. He is a member of the NORA board and has been a positive and active voice in supporting the oilheat and liquid heating fuels industry for decades.
NORA Board Chairman, Roger Marran announced, “We are excited about having Michael join the talented NORA team as president. He is an exemplary leader with the ability to further build on NORA’s success with his extensive knowledge and passion for the oilheat, biofuels and liquid fuels industry. He will help us expand on our mission of enabling renewable cleaner fuels, more efficient heating system and a highly educated technical workforce and is committed to NORA’s vision to provide better solutions for American consumers and businesses with cleaner, more efficient and more reliable heat and hot water systems.
Devine succeeds NORA’s founding President John Huber, who is retiring after a 22-year career with NORA. John will continue in his current role as President through early 2022 and will continue to provide support for Michael to ensure a successful transition period. Devine commented, “I’m honored to be selected as the next President of NORA. NORA has been critical to advancing the heating oil industry for over two decades. The challenges to our industry are great, but with the resources of NORA and the committed leadership of NORA’s Board, retailers and wholesalers throughout the country, we will develop the best path forward for this great industry.”
NORA was authorized by Congress in 2000 to generate funding for the Oilheating industry to provide more efficient and more reliable heat and hot water to American consumers. NORA’s efforts focus on Consumer Education, Professional Education, Energy Efficiency & Safety and Research. For more information on NORA’s activities go to NORAweb.org.
The National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA) has released a recently completed report on its Equipment Upgrade Incentive Project. The report examines the impact of rebates on efficiency, reductions in gallons of fuel used, savings to consumers and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. These rebate incentive programs have been used in many states for several years.
At the time the report’s release, NORA rebates had been used to support the installation of 6,412 liquid fuel fired boilers. This is approximately 1/10 of 1% of the liquid fuel powered heating equipment in the field. The dramatic gains in efficiency over the units replaced yielded big savings to the customers and to society.
On average, fuel consumption was reduced by 170 gallons per year per home. At $3.20 per gallon of fuel, this means a savings of $544 per year. If a $500 rebate encouraged early replacement by 1 year, the return on investment would be 8.8%. A boiler has a typical useful life of 25 years; they often last much longer. Total savings over the life of a boiler would be $13,600 in current dollars.
The societal savings are also dramatic. For these 6,412 boilers that were replaced, over one million gallons of fuel will not be used for the next 25 years. This represents a total of 27,251,000 gallons of fuel not burned over the life of the boiler. This translates into $87 million dollars saved; money that can be spent in the local economies.
Additionally, the replacement boilers represent nearly 396,000 tons of CO2e that will not be put into the atmosphere.
The study used in-field measurements of fuel consumption (before and after equipment changes). The researchers used actual delivery data of fuel to determine fuel use in a particular home prior to the equipment change and then evaluated consumption after the installation. The study did not rely on equipment ratings or other manufacturer evaluations of equipment. It captured in-use and actual savings to a consumer.
According to Dr. Thomas Butcher, NORA’s Technical Director and the study’s lead author, “The report provides powerful evidence of the benefits of improved equipment installed in homes and also the types of equipment that will yield the most savings for consumers.”
NORA will be developing communication pieces for service personnel and consumers so they can maximize the efficiency of their home. This information will also be invaluable to manufacturers as they develop equipment that reduces consumption in real world applications.
The proposed 2022 and 2023 biennial budget for the National Oilheat Research Alliance has been under development for several months. The NORA Finance Committee and the Executive Committee have reviewed the 2022 & 2023 budget and it is now being released for public comment.
At the conclusion of the public comment period, the budget will be forwarded to the Department of Energy.
Anyone interested in commenting on this should forward comments, by September 1, 2021, to JHuber@NORAweb.org.
The 2022 and 2023 budget incorporates the 2014 and 2018 changes in the NORA statute emphasizing research and development and adds an energy efficiency component. Additionally, the budget continues to emphasize the close working relationships with the state associations. For more information about NORA and its programs or services, call 703-340-1660 or visit the web site, NORAweb.org.
The National Oilheat Research Alliance Board of Directors has authorized funds to be spent on various research projects. Under PON No. 2019, NORA plans to award multiple cost-shared contracts in nine categories, up to a total of $350,000 for each award. This funding allocation may be adjusted depending on the quantity and quality of proposals received. There is no minimum project funding amount per project award. All projects will be managed by NORA’s Research Center. Proposals are due August 1, 2019 at 5pm EST.
NORA PON No. 2019 seeks proposals to support the development,demonstration,and commercialization of Oilheat technologies and systems in the following categories. (See the actual PON for details)
Category A: Ability to go to 100% Low carbon liquid fuel (LCFW). Seeking fuels, components, and burners for NORA testing commercialization