European project to reduce household carbon footprint by 25% targets microwaves

September 10, 2012 // By Jean-Pierre Joosting
Plextek is developing a pioneering solution to the growing energy demands of household appliances — starting with the humble microwave.

Research from the Energy Saving Trust shows that one third of household energy bills, and well over a quarter of household carbon dioxide emissions, come from electrical appliances. Plextek, in conjunction with the ENIAC Joint Undertaking, set up to encourage collaboration within Europe’s largest organisations, SME’s and academic institutions, aims to achieve the goal to enhance the miniaturisation of devices and their functionality, whilst improving overall energy efficiency.

The collaboration has set the target of reducing household consumption by 25% through technological advancements. Gareth Williams, Director of Plextek’s Digital Engineering Group, believes that it’s an aggressive target, but one Plextek must strive to achieve.

“The footprint of our household appliances is constantly on the rise, correlating with the huge growth in the amount of household appliances that we each use. There is already some great work being done to encourage behaviour change in our society in the way that we manage these appliances, but we aim to revolutionise the products right from blueprint stage.”

Over 190 million households in Europe posess a microwave oven, adding to the plethora of cold and hot appliances contributing to homeowner electricity bills. Experts estimate that microwaves account for 12.8 tera watt-hours per year, the equivalent of boiling more than 400 billion cups of tea.

The joint undertaking has refined its research into the way that RF energy is used in everyday appliances such as microwaves. Plextek has completed the first stage of a three-year project, in conjunction with its partners and is currently in the process of constructing prototype microwaves to be tested for study and the results could make a significant impact on household bills.

Gareth Williams continued “Clearly the food preparation sector is likely to benefit from this programme, but other industries outside domestic cooking are also likely to benefit. Areas such as microwave drying, mobile basestation design, and radar technology to name a few. It’s exciting to have so many different