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RapidHeat is a consortium of five small- and medium-sized companies (SMEs) and two research institutes who have won funding from the EU Research Executive Agency’s FP7 framework programme to develop an on-demand electric water heater that will use new technologies for its heating element and controls.

The consortium partners have drawn on their existing expertise and market knowledge to create the concepts behind RapidHeat.

The project leader, Cressall Resistors, is a leading European manufacturer of high-power resistors used in industry, power generation and distribution, rail traction and for marine and offshore applications. Cressall has recently launched the EV2, a high-power (25kW and 100kW) liquid cooled resistor which uses innovative materials and advanced heat transfer methods to give a product that is particularly well suited to the demanding performance standards of their clients. Key aspects of the design are patent-protected in Europe, Asia and North America.

Cressall has identified potential new applications for this new technology in the consumer market and the building industry. In particular, we believe that the concepts behind the EV2 can be adapted to create a range of high-capacity water heaters, typically with a continuous output of 35 litres/minute at 40°C, using an input of up to 100kW of electrical power. (This is a water flow rate that would fill an average bath in 3-4 minutes).

Water heaters that can produce large volumes of ‘instant’ hot water are needed in many commercial, industrial and public buildings and also in process and manufacturing industries that have intermittent demands for large volumes of hot water. These are cases where peak demand for hot water is many times the average — and the cost of heat losses from the hot water stored to meet that demand can be significant.

The European market for instantaneous electric water heaters is estimated at 1.15m units/year. RapidHeaters will be superior to existing products in several respects: they will be smaller, lighter, lower cost and most importantly, be able to produce water at full temperature and flow within one second of being switched on.

The aim of the project is to optimise the heating and control technologies for a RapidHeater, to manufacture prototypes for testing in ‘real world’ applications and finally to create a commercial product that the consortium partners can exploit to their individual commercial advantage.