EcoNomad™ Utility Appliance Technical Details

The “Power Water Heat Anywhere” logo best describes the technology:

  • Several pre-assembled and pre-designed infrastructure components are combined to create a comprehensive and user friendly infrastructure solution.

Architectural & Community Planning Inc. has researched, adapted, customized and field tested numerous infrastructure components and established the most optimized configuration for each of the following modules:

  • Power generation
  • Power management
  • Potable water treatment
  • Wastewater management
  • Heat generation and
  • Structural enclosures

Electricity Supply and Power Management

Several approaches are available for power supply, power generation and power management --- depending on site specific installation requirements.

  • The single utility units –- such as wastewater management only and potable water treatment only -- have no capacity to generate their own power. Conventional 110/ 240 VAC line power is used to operate these units; power can be supplied by the power grid or a third party gen-set unit.
  • For off-grid applications (combined utility units) renewable energy technologies (solar, wind or water) are available.
  • We suggest that in addition to the renewable energies a backup engine should be integrated to support the renewable energy systems.

Renewable Energy Components (RE)

Depending on the location of the system installation solar PV, wind or waterpower are integrated to work in an opportunistic manner – the power supply of the utility appliance does not entirely depend on the availability of the renewable energies ---- but the RE components are used in the most efficient way when available.

  • In some application the opportunistic use of the RE components and battery bank in conjunction with a back-up gen-set, reduces the overall run time of the back-up engine to about 4 hours per 24 hour period --- but reliable 110 or 240 VAC power is available to the attached building for the entire 24 hour period.
  • To allow for best fuel utilization a micro-co-generation engine / combined heat and power system (CHP) is available – generating heat and power simultaneously. These CHP systems work very efficiently in conjunction with renewable energy systems.

Electricity Supply --- Micro co-generation / Combined Heat and Power (CHP)

The most optimized and efficient electricity supply and power management is based on a customized Combined Heat and Power unit (CHP).

  • Small and medium scale CHP systems are very common in Europe and Japan, but are a relatively new technology to North America. The CHP system uses a standard diesel or biodiesel fuelled water cooled engine (Kubota or Izuzu base block) to run a conventional generator for power production.
  • To maximize overall efficiency during the power generation, the coolant water from the engine and the coolant water flowing through the exhaust system are routed through heat exchangers and the heat produced by the engine is used to provide domestic hot water or space heating.
  • Extraction of “free” heat from the engine during power generation significantly increases the overall fuel utilization factor.
  • The CHP process provides “conventional” 110 or 240 VAC power supply to the attached host building.

Battery Bank and Power Management

To further reduce the run time of the engine (back-up engine or CHP) a battery bank is used as energy storage system. At times of low power requirements the generator system completely shuts down and all power is supplied from the battery bank. An inverter / charger system controls the battery bank and in addition manages the DC power input from the RE sources (solar/wind).

  • For each project the battery system, power management and power distribution system are custom designed to best suit the application environment --- applying the same modular approach to all installations.
  • The battery bank and power management system can be scaled up or down as required.

Domestic Hot Water, Space Heating and Cooling

In a Combined Heat and Power System (CHP) the generation of heat for hot water and space heating are integrated into the same technology.

  • Indirect fired hot water storage tanks are used to capture the “free” heat generated during the power production.
  • Heat exchangers are used to extract the heat from the storage tank for use in a space heating or domestic hot water system.
  • Space cooling can be achieved by a process called tri-generation – an extension of the CHP process using an engine operated compressor for cooling purposes.

Potable Water Storage and Purification

A custom designed potable water storage and purification module is used to provide safe drinking water to any host building.

  • Primary water treatment is provided by a sequence of filter units, followed by a NSF certified membrane based water purification system (supplied by General Electric).
  • In addition, a UV disinfection system and a chlorination unit (if required) are installed to complete the system. The ultra violet light disinfection system is custom designed and has the advantage of an up to 90% reduction in the power consumption (as compared to conventional UV disinfection units).
  • All potable water storage tanks are made from food grade plastics to complement the potable water management systems.
  • To further manage the power consumption, only pumps with a low starting inrush current are used.

Wastewater Management and Treatment

ACPI is combining a multiple chamber septic tank system with a proven treatment technology.

  • Primary treatment and solids separation are enhanced by using biofiltration curtains and air injection.
  • Components for the treatment system are sourced from Waterloo Biofilter® Systems Inc. –-- a trickle filter system which meets all the requirements of the current Canadian wastewater management guidelines.
  • In addition to the base wastewater management and treatment unit, a UV disinfection and hydrogen peroxide injection unit or chlorination unit (if required) complete the system.
  • The potable water management system can be scaled to accommodate liquid waste from 2 people to 300 person camps.
  • Based on the proven reliability of the Waterloo Biofilter® System, several Provincial authorities have issued variances – allowing for a streamlined approval process for installations of the waste water treatment module.


Shipping container units are used as structure for the utility appliance – a robust and standardized enclosure allowing for easy transport management.

  • Floor, walls and ceiling are insulated as required and the inside is clad with a fire resistant cladding.
  • For installation in remote locations, a two or three beam skid is welded to the container allowing for easy unloading, skidding and lifting with heavy equipment.
  • Side doors, side access hatches and roof hatches are added as required.

Control, Alarm and Remote Modem Access (OPTIONAL)

Control and alarm functions are integrated as required into each technology module -- using reliable off-the-shelf industrial quality equipment. Temperature, pump functions, water and waste water levels, engine functions, battery status, etc. are constantly monitored and if actual operating conditions exceed pre-set parameters alarm and safety shut down functions are activated.

  • The majority of the utility appliances do not require remote access.
  • Currently, a dedicated remote modem access system is only integrated upon special request; a SCADA or mini PLC system is available to remotely monitor, control and manipulate up to 20 functions.
    This remote access option will be expanded in the near future.