• Question: Can you run a house on Petrol?

    Asked by kronicoptomist to Ed, Keith, Tish, Nicola, Rachel on 19 Mar 2013.
    • Photo: Nicola Lazenby

      Nicola Lazenby answered on 19 Mar 2013:

      In places where there is no electricity cables, .e.g remote parts of Scotland, petrol generators are used to provide energy to communities so yes – you can run a house on petrol 🙂

    • Photo: Keith Beattie

      Keith Beattie answered on 19 Mar 2013:

      Yes, and many houses that are too remote to be connected to the natural gas network do run their heating on fuel oil, which is a type of petroleum, although not the same quality as you would run your car on. However if you wanted electricity as well as heat, you could use a piece of equipment called a combined heat and power plant (known as CHP). This uses a fuel (could be petrol) to power an engine (eg car engine) which in turn is connected to a generator to generate electricity. At the same time, as the engine needs to be cooled to stop it overheating, you could use water from you house central heating system to cool the engine, which would transfer heat from the engine to your house. Quite often anything is possible with engineering, but whether it should be done will depend on how much it will cost, compared to other alternatives.

    • Photo: Edward Taylor

      Edward Taylor answered on 20 Mar 2013:

      I was out in Cambodia and saw this in action, it was pretty impressive. Because they dont have a reliable power grid like us, they get frequent power cuts, even in the capital city! This happened one night, and like clockwork, the shop keepers came out of every shop along the high street with a petrol driven generator, started them up, and all the lights in their shop came straight back on. Impressive stuff!

      Its an inefficient way of powering houses though, definitely better to stick to power plants!