In our last presentation of the green developments we found at Innovar --Argentina's annual contest for inventors and designers, we want to highlight the work of scientist Luis Eduardo Juanico.
This man measured the efficiency of some of the most popular commercial gas heaters and found their thermal yield was very low: only 39% to 63%. That is, they were only taking advantage of half the amount of heat they could produce with a given amount of gas.
"Manufacturers will tell you the amount of gas a heater spends, but not its efficiency, which is how much heat will you get for the gas it consumes", he explains.
Having realized that, he moved on to study what was wrong with these heaters and found simple causes that were delivering this poor result: the surface of the combustion chamber was too small, the case in which the heat was created was too enclosed, and there was no ventilator that could force hot air out, so a lot of it got lost inside the device.
"A lot of the new modern heaters are very nice, but they are like boxes, without any windows for the air to come out", he jokes.
With these problems in mind, the scientist designed a prototype of a better heater: he added pleats of metal to the combustion chamber to gain heated surface, introduced side ventilation windows, and used computer cooling ventilators positioned in the base of the heater as a way to force hot air out.
These simple modifications (focused in the functioning, not aesthetics) would increase the price of the heater in an astonishing low amount of 25 pesos (less than 10 US dollars) and would increase the efficiency of the heater to 85%, reducing thus the amount of gas required to heat a given room.
Keep reading for more details and additional pictures.All of these modifications also made the heater quicker to start: instead of taking half an hour to heat a space, it takes only one minute.
You would think the companies took the prototype and ideas out of his hands, but they didn't. "When I showed this to a few manufacturers, they said: 'hey, but if we produce better heaters then people will buy less of them'", says Juanico.
As he is not looking to compete with manufacturers, the ideas and systems he came up with are available for companies that want to implement them. If you're one, get in touch with the inventor at juanico at cab dot cnea dot gov dot ar.
Taking the prototype aside, this is a good example about how sometimes what the signs in the home appliances say is not the important issue. So next time you shop for a heater, ask for its efficiency instead than just checking the consume.
Side 'windows' for better heat distribution.
Computer cooling ventilators in the base of the heater.