Energy efficient house: seven Ukrainian innovations for your home

Air recuperation systems, thermal insulation using hemp, alternative types of household power plants and “smart” homes – all that are Ukrainian startups known not just in Ukraine but also abroad.

These and other projects won between 3 and 50 thousand euros from the European Union under Innovation Vouchers program. 26 companies became the winners of this program.

The program is set to provide support to 50 Ukrainian climate innovation projects, spending 1 million euros on these projects. The startups are administered and implemented by Greencubator NGO.

EP selected some of these projects that could be helpful for everyone dreaming of a truly energy efficient home.


Passive house

In the past, EP already wrote about PassivDom, a startup that has appeared in March 2016 and already made its presence felt in the Ukrainian market, in its article Homes of the Future: Who Creates Energy Efficient Homes in Ukraine and How.

This company offers a ready solution: a house that does not need to be connected to an electrical grid or a water main but still offers all benefits of a modern civilization.

The idea of an autonomous house is nothing new, but PassivDom was able to combine the most innovative and advanced energy efficient solutions. This house is built from carbon fiber- and polyurethane-based modular structures, and some of its elements are made using the 3D printing technology.

Moreover, the house does not require foundation, which means that it can be erected in one day in any place without disturbing natural landscape. The house comes with solar panels, and all resources are reused.


‘The key idea behind our project is to create “smart”, autonomous homes for people. These are the world’s first serial-manufactured houses that do not need to be connected to the sources of power, gas or water supply or sewage system and that could be erected in any place without doing construction work’, the project’s founder and СЕО Maksym Gerbut says.

The price tag on the house is 64 to 147 thousand dollars depending on options. The project is geared toward the U.S. and EU markets. The money received under Innovation Vouchers program was spent on patenting and certification services.


Electricity generating blinds

The Kyiv-based company SolarGaps has designed window blinds with solar panels generating electricity. One square meter of this product may generate up to 100 Wh depending on weather – enough to power 30 LED lamps or three laptops.

‘Our priority is European countries, especially Spain and Germany. They have high electricity prices and adequate weather. America will come next. Automated blinds are already available on the market, but only our product can generate electricity and feed it into the network’, Sofia Erik, Manager for Business Development says.


The company plans to spend the grant it received on launching serial production, in particular, on patenting in Ukraine and abroad and on expert assistance with industrial design and electronic control unit. They are also working on integrating the blinds with the “smart” home’s ecosystem.

The price for SolarGaps blinds varies depending on country and order size, and starts from 632 dollars for a small window.


Recuperators with performance efficiency of over 90%

A recuperator is a mechanical ventilation system helping reduce heating costs by warming up the intake fresh air.

The effectiveness of regular recuperators is 40-65%. Using a copper heat exchanger, designers from the Lviv-based company PRANA created a recuperator that can recover 93% of heat.

‘The patented technology and unique design of our heat exchanger made from high-quality copper allow for the most effective use of its entire space. This result is not final, though: our company has received a grant from the EU and EBRD, and is already working on a recuperator with the 95% efficiency’, a company’s representative says.


In 2018, the PRANA recuperator was named the most popular specialized product purchased under IQ Energy program. These recuperators have a European quality certificate, and the company’s dealer network covers 25 countries including France, Italy and Spain.

The price of a household PRANA recuperator is 7100-7600 hryvnias depending on model. A more productive model for public or commercial buildings costs 9,500 hryvnias.


Cardboard recuperator

Recuperators for ventilation systems help reduce heating bills. Their only drawback is price: 600 to 2500 euros. However, the Dnipro-based company VTS Komplekt found a way to significantly reduce the device’s price without losing in effectiveness.

The company’s engineers have designed the Cardboard AHU, a device made from corrugated cardboard instead of metal. The price tag is 300 euros.


‘In insulated buildings, the power consumption for ventilation is 40%. Our device reduces that figure fourfold. Our target audience includes buildings and small businesses: offices, cafes, stores. They need ventilation, but could not afford it until now’, Mykhailo Makhlevych, the company’s commercial director says.

The company is developing commercial prototypes for testing and an automation system, and is almost finished with developing a technology of manufacturing ventilation units. The system is intended for installation in the attic.


Hemp-based building materials and insulation

The Ukrainian startup Hempire UA erects buildings using a hemp- and lime-based mix. This material has excellent energy efficiency properties, and can be used to build and insulate houses.

The material is eco-friendly and not inflammable; it regulates air humidity inside the house, and is vermin- and fungus-resistant. Hemp houses are ordered mostly by people who live in a clean environment. Hempire UA builds homes like that not just in Ukraine but also in a number of European countries and even in the United States.


The Hempire Mix insulation is slightly more expensive than polystyrene foam or mineral wool, but on the other hand, this material does not require additional installation elements.

Because of that, the cost of a Hempire Mix-insulated wall is approximately the same as a conventional solution. The only downside is that high-rise apartment buildings can be insulated with the Hempire Mix on the inside only.

The voucher from the EU and EBRD will help certify this solution in order for it to be offered in the local and European markets. After that, the team will start building the production facility to manufacture panel-shaped insulation materials.


Household thermal power plant

The technology of generating electricity from heat is nothing new. In Ukraine, thermal power stations have been commercially operated for over a century, but Rotor Sumy Mechanical Engineering Factory has designed a thermal power plant that could be installed in a private home.

The currently-popular solar power plants are not always capable of supplying enough electricity to a house, being dependent on weather and time of the day. The power plant designed in Sumy is pellet-fired, transforming pellets into electricity and heat.


The company has already created a prototype, and is going to launch the production of small-capacity (3-10 kW) plants. The plant is operated by a Stirling engine that transforms heat energy into mechanical work and allows to reuse residual heat. The plant’s minimum performance efficiency is 90%.


Noiseless urban wind generator

The Kyiv-based company Sirocco Energy has designed a compact wind generator that could be mounted on the apartment building’s roof. It does not have blades, and can be driven by a lesser-velocity wind than required for a conventional turbine.

The generator’s capacity is up to 30 kW, which is the maximum authorized capacity of household solar power plants. This wind generator is five meters wide and has the tower 14 meters high.


The company has already developed a prototype, and is preparing to launch serial production.

‘We have tested the prototype on the roof of our production facility. Today, we are making a commercial version and are going to start marketing it. At first, we will release 5 kW pilot projects and then increase the capacity’, the project’s cofounder and СЕО Anna Pryimak says.

At first, the company will gear itself toward the Ukrainian market, and later on, will enter the EU and U.S. markets. The developers haven’t calculated the cost of the wind generator yet.


By Volodymyr Rykhlytskyi

Source – Economichna Pravda