Hybrid water heating system to be dedicated at Gilo community center

Phoebus CEO tells Post system saves between 50 and 70% of oil and reduces pollution by 80 to 90%.

Phoebus Energy will unveil its first hybrid water heating system at the Gilo community center in the capital on Tuesday. The Israeli startup formed in 2007 has developed a hybrid heat pump system that integrates with existing oil-based systems to make them much more efficient. CEO Yaron Tal told The Jerusalem Post ahead of the launch that the system saved between 50 and 70 percent of oil and reduced pollution by 80 to 90%. "The Phoebus system is based on a complex algorithm that we developed which governs when to use the oil-based system and when to use the heat pump. It constantly monitors many parameters to decide which way is most efficient to generate heat," Tal said. "The system measures such parameters as the temperature outside, the temperature of the water, and the price of the oil. Several of the parameters change a number of times throughout the day," he continued. While this will be the first official dedication of the system, Phoebus Energy has installed its system in eight locations in Israel, from kibbutzim to community centers to hotels. The system is economically advantageous for any large user of hot water, for example a hospital, according to Tal. It was not really financially worthwhile for private households, he said. The company is also already in negotiations with potential clients abroad. Because of the hybrid nature of the system, it can provide customers with hot water 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, Tal said. While the uniqueness is in the algorithm, and the command and control and monitoring system, Tal said his firm had also managed to get its heat pumps to become more efficient than many others, which contributed to the economic viability of the system. "For every kilowatt of electricity, we produce 3 kilowatts [worth] of heat," he said. Heat pumps had been around for a long time as a means to heat water, Tal said. Phoebus Energy heat pumps take an ecologically safe version of freon to transfer energy to water. The freon flows at high pressure at a temperature of 5º Celsius. Air is then pushed into the freon, which heats the freon. At 12º, the freon turns from a liquid into a gas. The gas is then mixed with the water, which heats the water, Tal said. The company managed to get the pumps to heat water to 55-60º Celsius, as opposed to other models that only reached 30-40º, he said. The use of heat pumps cut oil use tremendously, thus reducing costs and pollution, he said. Shalom Turgeman, who runs the Gilo community center, said in a statement, "The expected savings run into the hundreds of thousands of shekels, but the real point is that we are taking a step for a greener Earth and fighting the air pollution in the Gilo neighborhood." Until now, the community center, one of the largest in the country, burned more than 100,000 liters of oil per year to heat the swimming pool, water for the showers and bathrooms, and the gym. Tal was appointed CEO of Phoebus Energy at the beginning of the month and the company recently completed a financing round of $1 million from private investment fund Galilaea. The company raised $2m. in a previous round from Terra Venture Partners.