Research Partnership Leads to Heat Recovery Improvements in Rural Alaska Communities

Research Partnership Leads to Heat Recovery Improvements in Rural Alaska Communities

With support from the Office of Naval Research, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and Alaska Center for Energy and Power entered into a formal partnership in 2018 that leverages the unique strengths of both organizations. This effective partnership has led to multiple projects, including analyses of the performance and heat recovery potential of energy systems in rural Alaska. 

ANTHC is a nonprofit health organization based in Anchorage providing health services, in addition to water and sanitation, energy, and heating systems to Alaska’s Native peoples and rural communities.

More than 80 Alaska communities use heat recovered from the diesel generators at their power plants to help warm nearby buildings. Heat recovery systems increase power house efficiency, extracting 10%-20% more energy from each gallon of diesel burned.

A review of statewide heat recovery needs and opportunities identified by this collaboration has led ANTHC to acquire funding to implement the highest-priority upgrades. Additionally, the need to monitor heat recovery systems, revisit heat sales agreements and communicate the often hidden benefits of heat recovery to community members and utilities were identified.

To date, the partnership has helped ANTHC secure funding for heat meters for increased end-user monitoring, system upgrades and/expansions in four Alaska communities, autogenerated summaries of benefits informed by monitoring to be sent to end-users on a regular basis, and more.

“Additional opportunity for follow up work remains,” said ANTHC mechanical engineer Bailey Gamble, “but it’s been a meaningful effort that has already made a difference.”

For more information on this partnership, please contact Erin Whitney at


Heat is recovered from diesel generators in over 80 communities around Alaska, including Kotzebue (pictured here). Photo by Amanda Byrd.