Software development for mCHP for off grid applications

Type: Master's Assignment
Student Alaa Alzughayyar
Contacts: Albert Molderink, Vincent Bakker, Gerard Smit
Location: CAES, University of Twente


A mCHP is a heating system which heats water in an efficient way. In addition it generates electricity by its internal Stirling motor. This Stirling motor is started with electricity drawn from the grid and feeds its generated energy back into the grid. In the event of a grid failure, due to regulation the Stirling motor has to stop generating energy leaving potential available energy un-used. This behavior makes it impossible to operate a mCHP off grid.


However, Nedap has introduced the PowerRouter. This is a modular on- or off grid inverter for solar and/or wind energy with the possibility for energy storage. Due to its construction and DSP technology, the PowerRouter is bi-directional.

Current wind- or solar inverters feed their generated energy back to the grid. They act as a current source, following the sinewave of the grid. Regular sinewave inverters feed energy to their connecting loads and are not bi-directional. It can build it’s own grid and possibly use the mCHP as backup generator in an off grid scenario.


This assignment is planned to be done in two phases as the following:

First phase: The challenge in this part is to design and implementation a software protocol which enables mCHP-s to operate off grid. i.e. build a grid using solar, wind or battery, allowing the mCHP to start and continue building the grid when energy is generated by the mCHP.

Second phase: The designed model in the first part will be simulated in a large fleet of houses using the developed simulator by the CAES group. The purpose for this simulation is to analyze the optimization algorithms and multiple business model of this setup.

Research Questions

During the period of my research which will be divided into two phases I will try to answer the following Questions:

  1. How to connect the mCHP to the PowerRouter system.

  2. How to build the algorithms inside the PowerRouter to build the interface with the mCHP which will be working off grid, and in this context particularly it will be needed to answer the following sub questions:

    1. When the grid is off the PowerRouter will provide the mCHP with required power to start up, and then the mCHP will be working to provide heat and electricity. So it’s required to know how to draw back the produced electricity.

    2. When the electricity produced by the mCHP is back to the PowerRouter, it’s required to know how to optimize the usage of this electricity.

The main question in the second phase will be how efficient will be the designed system based on the simulated and studied business model.

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