Energy News: Instant Flow Water Heater, Peat Fuel, and More

This installment of an ongoing energy news feature includes stories about the instant flow water heater and inquiries into the potential of peat fuel.

| March/April 1979

  • 056 energy news - peat fuel - trevorb - Fotolia.jpg
    The Soviet Union and Ireland were already using peat fuel, and Sweden and some US states were looking into it.

  • 056 energy news - peat fuel - trevorb - Fotolia.jpg

The following energy news stories were drawn from multiple sources.

Instant Flow Water Heater

A water heater the size of a Webster's Collegiate Dictionary can instantly raise tap water to a temperature of 145°F or higher and eliminate the need for hot water tanks and pipes. Most people believe that the cost ($120) per "Instant-Flo" heater is too high, but the National Bureau of Standards suggests that the one-faucet water warmers could be used as boosters for dishwashers and washing machines.

Peat Fuel

Peat bogs in the United States are being eyed as a potential fuel source, since a pound of the material—when dried to a 50% moisture content and then burned—can produce about 5,000 Btu's. The Minnesota Gas Company and the Institute of Gas Technology have already spent $1.5 million on a peat gasification study and hope to invest $5 million more. Sweden thinks its peat reserves could provide one-fifth of that nation's energy needs, while the Soviets and the Irish already produce electricity from the decayed vegetable fuel.

Kelp Power

A quarter-acre marine biomass module will soon be constructed—under the auspices of the Department of Energy, the Gas Research Institute, and the General Electric Company—off the California coast. It is hoped that the experimental installation will determine the technical and economic feasibility of a commercial-sized system for the production of methane from seaweed.

Peach Pit Power

Ground peach pits produce 80% of the steam needed to can food at the Tri·Valley Growers plant in Modesto, California. (The remaining 20% is provided by gas and oil.) This new fuel source is expected to save the region's growers more than $180,000 a year, and eliminate problems caused by the storage of a large stockpile of peach stones.

Heat Pump Surcharge

A $30 surcharge may be imposed on Maryland customers who add electric heat pumps to work in conjunction with their gas furnaces. (The pump is said to save $159 on the average annual heat bill.) The Washington Gas Light Company defended the possible penalty by claiming it would prevent those customers who didn't install the energy-saving pumps from having to pay a greater share of the utility's fixed costs.

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