More people are looking for ways to cut back in energy usage in any way they can, especially after the frigid winter much of the U.S. just experienced. One U.K. startup may provide new options with graphene.
Xefro has created a graphene-based heating system that can reduce energy costs up to 70 percent, according to IEEE Spectrum. Furthermore, it can quickly switch on and off, thanks to graphene’s minimal thermal energy. The company claims that its product, known as gRAD, is the first of its kind to use graphene as a heating element.
Graphene is composed of a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb shape, making it thin yet incredibly strong. It has excellent properties as a heat conductor. The high surface area of graphene makes it perfect for emitting infrared. This means that it doesn’t need to generate a hot surface temperature in order to function, making it a safer option than a standard heater.
The company has a couple of products using graphene, the gRAD central heating system and the g2o hot water system. “The innovation is all about getting useable heat where it is needed,” Tim Harper, a founder of Xefro, tells IEEE. “By selecting the right materials for the construction of the heater, we can reduce absorption of infrared to the minimum and ensure that most of the heat is emitted (out into the room) rather than simply heating up the wall behind the heater.” Based on Xefro’s site, it looks like the gRAD hangs on the wall and is made of carbon fiber sheet, the graphene-printed IR element, a vertical tube array, and stain gloss or carbon fiber finish.
Xefro has also created a mobile app for you to use to control your products. The app is designed for smartphones tablets, desktop computers, and laptops (although no operating systems have been named just yet). “The energy savings come when the heaters are deployed as a system throughout a building,” says Harper. “The heaters are linked with the control system via Wi-Fi, allowing the system to learn your behavior as well as the optimum heating required to maintain a comfortable temperature.”
The heating system will be available starting in July 2015 in the U.K. but there are no pricing details. There will be further expansion to other markets later this year.