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Technology Focus


Emerson presented its propane-based Copeland Scroll compressor for both fixed and variable speeds during the summit.

me is the investment in product development that is required,” he told Accelerate Europe at the heat pump event. “To me, training is not the main issue.”

SANDEN Europe’s ECONORDIC can also provide space heating and ventilation, and hot water production.

Changes in entrepreneurial behaviour and innovation are also set to favour natural refrigerant heat pumps, but more education and training are needed, argued Bert van Dorp of engineering consultants Witteveen & Bos at ATMOsphere Europe.

Compressor manufacturer Tecumseh’s Anthony Ornatsky agrees that CO 2 is a better option. “To me, CO 2 is the best solution,” Ornatsky says. Besides Emerson, heat pump manufacturer NIBE is also working with R290. Since the early 1990s, NIBE has used propane in its exhaust heat pumps. “We are now developing into further applications with R290 together with [Alfa Laval],” NIBE’s Peter Jocic told Accelerate Europe at the heat pump summit. “We think it’s the best choice for several reasons,” Jocic said. “Thermally it’s the best choice, and price-wise it’s the best choice.” However, Emerson’s Wilmot cites lack of knowledge among the HVAC&R workforce, including end users, installers and maintenance staff, as a current barrier to wider uptake of propane in heat pumps. “The technology is still new for most end users,” he said.

New opportunities, old concerns Fears over the flammability of hydrocarbons can also slow down the uptake of propane heat pumps. Wilmot believes such fears are largely unfounded. “The [propane bottle] I have at home for my grill has 13 kg of propane inside,” he said. “That’s huge compared to the 1.5 kg of propane you have in a heat pump.” Various safety standards also limit the hydrocarbon charge that can be used in heat pumps across the European Union and in individual countries. These charge limits are currently being revised (for more on how hydrocarbon safety standards are being changed to accommodate higher charges of refrigerant, see Accelerate Europe #8). Many others are also looking into hydrocarbons. Vinther Pedersen from the Danish Technological Institute says Danish companies increasingly see propane as an option. “We have a company developing heat pumps and also manufacturing heat pumps – NILAN,” Pedersen says. “They are developing heat pumps with propane.” To Pedersen, it’s not so much training, knowledge or safety standards that are holding back uptake of natural refrigerants in residential heat pumps, but rather a question of money. “The main barrier to

Winter 2017

Accelerate Europe

Emerson's Pascal Wilmot at the European Heat Pump Summit in Nuremberg, Germany

Van Dorp also called for “a bigger focus on Total Cost of Ownership or Life Cycle Costing approaches”. Uniechemie’s Van der Hoff called for fiscal measures to support wider uptake of natural refrigerants. “Taxes on energy consumption should be higher and tax breaks on energy savings should be increased,” he said. “With natural refrigerant heat pumps, you have a payback time: it’s not an investment, it’s not testing, it’s a reality.” While the residential market for natural refrigerants in heat pumps is challenging, large-scale heating projects are proving fertile ground for ammonia. Industrial heat pump manufacturer Mayekawa’s Eric Delforge, who chairs a European Heat Pump Association (EHPA) working group on industrial and commercial heat pumps, argued at ATMOsphere Europe that ammonia is already a growing trend. “Many others can learn from industrial systems,” Delforge said.

Accelerate Europe #9 Winter 2017  

HONOURING THE TRAILBLAZERS The past twelve months have been full of innovation in the HVAC&R sector. The winter 2017 edition of Accelerate...

Accelerate Europe #9 Winter 2017  

HONOURING THE TRAILBLAZERS The past twelve months have been full of innovation in the HVAC&R sector. The winter 2017 edition of Accelerate...