25 Mar 2024

Creating a Greener Future: An Interview with Rinnai

In a recent interview, we had the opportunity to chat with Chris Goggin, Operations Director of Rinnai UK, following the exciting news about the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between our organizations. Our discussion focused on the progress of our partnership, which centres on exploring ways to decarbonize the LPG market in Europe through the utilization of Renewable & Recycled Carbon DME.

Can you tell us about your role and Rinnai?

I am the Operations Director of Rinnai UK. Since joining the company in 2005, I have had the privilege of holding various positions, which have provided me with invaluable insights and experiences. In my current role, I oversee all aspects of the company’s operations, with a specific focus on marketing and product development.
One area that I am particularly passionate about is innovation. Within our product development division, we actively explore new and transformative solutions for the UK commercial heating and hot water market. As we navigate the path towards a more sustainable future, it is crucial to consider the integration of renewable and recycled liquid fuels, such as DME.
By introducing these alternative fuel options, we strive to reduce our reliance on non-renewable resources and minimize our impact on the environment. Embracing innovation and sustainable practices is not just a responsibility – it is an opportunity to lead the way in our industry and inspire positive change. Together with the dedicated team at Rinnai UK, I am committed to driving this crucial transition and promoting a more sustainable future.
At Rinnai, we have an innovation manifesto that drives the whole organisation towards carbon neutrality throughout our operation. We are pleased to say that renewable and recyclable liquid fuels like DME form an important area of our development.

What was the pathway to the Dimeta/Rinnai Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)?

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Dimeta is a result of several years of forward-thinking collaboration between Rinnai and members of the LPG industry, including current and former representatives of Liquid Gas UK and other prominent organisations. The highlights of our joint endeavours have included case studies, carbon modelling for commercial heating and hot water systems and lobby activities.
The main synergistic trait between our innovative organisations is based on the desire to provide a pragmatic approach to decarbonisation that considers the nuances of rural buildings and their energy system restrictions.
The strength of our belief in the need for mixed energy sources and products made the formalisation of an MoU an obvious choice for both organisations. The next phase of the MoU will mean that the resources of the Rinnai Corporation will work closely with the extremely knowledgeable team at DIMETA to accelerate the learning curve of both organisations and, hopefully, for the LPG industry.
We look forward to continuing this partnership and delivering Renewable and Recycled Carbon DME appliances in future.

“The benefits of blending DME with LPG are substantial. The mixing of these gases will immediately reduce the carbon intensity of new sites and, importantly, the existing fleet of gas appliances in the field. The carbon reduction could be up to 15% dependent on blend ratio, before even adding BioLPG into the mix. A 100% DME appliance could also offer emissions savings of up to 85% compared to those using oil or diesel for heating or energy purposes.”

Chris Goggin, Operations Director Rinnai UK

Why are you supportive of Renewable and Recycled Carbon DME?    

We are believers in the requirement for mixed solutions within both the on-grid and off-grid building stock. The vast array of hot water and heating requirements across the spectrum of rural properties call for practical, economical, and technically viable solutions that are considerate of the local energy supply and infrastructure.  
We have canvassed multiple rural market sectors to establish the viability of an all-electric approach to decarbonisation, and it became clear that there is a real and growing need for LPG and future low-carbon derivatives.  
During our rural focus groups, we spoke to off-grid leisure proprietors, particularly within the caravan and camping industry. The feedback expressed practical and economic-based concerns regarding switching from LPG to electric-based systems. Concerns focussed on the following issues: the availability of electrical infrastructure, the practicalities of installing heat pump systems and the associated storage vessels and space requirements and, finally, the cost of switching.  

What potential benefits and challenges might arise from blending renewable and recycled carbon DME with LPG in gas appliances, and how could this collaboration impact the decarbonisation of the LPG market in Europe 

The benefits of blending DME with LPG are substantial. The mixing of these gases will immediately reduce the carbon intensity of new sites and, importantly, the existing fleet of gas appliances in the field. The carbon reduction could be up to 15%, dependent on the blend ratio, before even adding BioLPG into the mix. A 100% DME appliance could also offer emissions savings of up to 85% compared to those using oil or diesel for heating or energy purposes.  
At Rinnai, we have commissioned several whitepapers that analyse the impact of a transition from oil and LPG to BioLPG. The results demonstrate significant savings in carbon emissions (KgCO2e). The lower carbon constitution of LPG demonstrates a reduction in carbon emissions of 15% when compared to oil. A transition from LPG to BioLPG would reduce carbon emissions by 50% in five years and 70% in 15 years. The results also demonstrate that if there was a straight transition from oil to BioLPG, there would be a carbon saving of 81%. These whitepapers are available to share on request. We are working closely with Dimeta to develop a similar analysis for DME and look forward to sharing this information very soon. 
Again, subject to blend ratio, the process of blending has the additional benefit of not requiring heater adjustment and acting as a drop-in solution. This will also enable the upstream production of DME to scale up as more renewable versions are needed, allowing the industry to supply the increasing demand with a controlled and scalable approach.  
However, when it comes to blending DME with LPG, the most important point is obtaining the correct blend ratio. For this reason, one of the mitigation strategies we have deployed alongside Dimeta and Liquid Gas UK is the implementation of a PAS standard that signifies the desired blend ratio and applies a publicly accepted standard that demonstrates appliances are “state of the art” when it comes to blending and 100% DME.  
The PAS standard will ensure consistent safety, performance, and specification levels for appliances like DME-ready boilers under the Gas Appliance Regulation. The purpose of the standard is to prescribe a way for manufacturers like Rinnai to design, test, and certify new appliances compatible with DME and allow them to be placed on the market. 

It has been about one year since the Dimeta team visited the Rinnai Global facilities in Japan. Can you talk to us about how far Dimeta and Rinnai have come since then?  

Since our meetings with Dimeta in Japan, significant progress has been made in our collaboration. In September, we announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which serves as a stepping stone to explore the potential of DME blended with LPG in existing appliances and the development of 100% dedicated DME appliances. 
Our partnership has allowed the Rinnai combustion division to work closely with the Dimeta team. Testing schedules have been conducted to establish the real-life impact of blended and 100% DME, and we look forward to sharing updates on these activities once they are concluded. We are also regularly collaborating on standardisation, ensuring that both the fuels and appliances effectively meet or exceed requirements.  
In addition to advancing the development of greener appliances, we are actively collaborating on advocacy and communication initiatives. As a testament to our shared commitment, we are thrilled to announce that we will be speaking at the Installer Show in June. This platform will provide us with a valuable opportunity to discuss our collaborative efforts in front of an engaged audience. 
There are some very exciting next steps to come so keep watching our progress!