Heating is responsible for 14 percent of the UK’s carbon footprint, posing a major hurdle in the country’s journey to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. As the country plans to phase out the use of gas boilers in homes by 2030, more sustainable heating technologies — such as green hydrogen — are emerging on the horizon to replace them.
One of the latest innovations with promising potential to decarbonize the UK’s heating sector is microwave-powered boilers, which can provide a straightforward, zero-emissions alternative to the gas boilers that heat most of the country’s homes today.
Developed by Heat Wayv, the novel boiler uses electricity to heat water which can then be pumped through existing radiators and to taps. The technology is currently in its prototype stage, but the company expects to ru trials of the first boilers in homes by the end of 2022 and begin sales by 2024. The price of one unit for a four-bedroom home would be around £3,500 ($4,800) — about the same price of an equivalent gas boiler. They would also be similar in size, making them more space efficient.
The Heat Wayv unit has 10 meters of pipe coiled inside, which is heated at multiple points along its length. As reported by The Guardian, the microwaves are produced by solid-state components, which can be tuned specifically to heat water and better targeted than the magnetrons used in microwave ovens.
What’s more, according to the creators, the heaters would have about the same electrical load as an electric oven and be 84 percent efficient at converting electricity into hot water. They would also be able to recycle another 12 percent of waste heat, giving the heaters a total efficiency of 96 percent.
Co-founder Paul Atherton says the company will initially target the 170,000 new homes built each year in the UK before expanding to convert older units: “The beauty of our microwave boiler is that it is completely compatible with existing home radiators.”