Fraunhofer ISE presents propane heat pump with heating, cooling performance of 5.6

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Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (Fraunhofer ISE) has unveiled a new heat pump intended for use in industrial processes with heating and cooling requirements.

The German research institute said it developed the system in partnership with the Bavarian Center for Applied Energy Research (ZAE Bayern) and Germany-based industrial equipment provider Mafac E. Schwarz GmbH & Co. KG, under the umbrella of the ETA in Existing Facilities research project funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection (BMWK).

The contribution of the Fraunhofer ISE to the project consisted of providing a special propane (R290) refrigeration circuit that reportedly doesn't exceed the maximum limit of 150 grams of propane. “Thus, the heat pump can be operated independently of the safety requirements that apply to indoor heat pump installations with flammable refrigerants,” it said in a statement.

The consortium tested the heat pump in combination with an existing industrial cleaning machine that was previously powered exclusively by grid electricity. This machine usually operates in a two-shift mode with five production days per week and 48 production weeks per year.

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The testing showed the heat pump can achieve a combined heating and cooling performance of 5.6, which the Fraunhofer ISE is a better performance than that achieved by the machine when used with grid power.

“The power requirements for heating the process water and for heating the flow air for drying were cut by half, while the power used for heating the freshwater was reduced by as much as 80%,” the research institute said. “By recirculating the exhaust air, over 10,000 liters of fresh water can be saved annually, thanks to a new type of condensation unit that efficiently re-cools the process exhaust air, allowing the available cooling from the heat pump to be used in the cleaning machine in line with the process.”

The consortium added the novel heat pump system can be utilized in other industrial processes with a temperature range of 50 C to 70 C.

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