How Heat Pumps Work
A heat pump operates on technology akin to that of refrigerators or air conditioners. It draws heat from various sources, such as air, water, ground, or waste heat from industrial processes, and then amplifies and transfers it to where it's needed. This method of transferring heat, rather than generating it, renders heat pumps notably more efficient than traditional heating methods like boilers or electric heaters, often resulting in lower operational costs. The energy output in the form of heat is typically several times greater than the energy input required to power the heat pump, typically sourced from electricity.
A heat pump consists of a compressor, a refrigeration cycle circulating a refrigerant, a heat exchanger extracting heat from a source, and another heat exchanger transferring the heat to a designated heat sink. In residential and commercial settings, heat is distributed through forced-air systems or hydronic systems like radiators or underfloor heating. Heat pumps can also be integrated with water tanks to produce hot water for domestic use or to add flexibility to hydronic systems. In industrial applications, they serve to supply hot air, water, or steam, or directly heat materials. For large-scale industrial or district heating applications, where higher input temperatures are required, heat pumps can utilize waste heat from industrial processes, data centers, or wastewater to meet these demands.
|Thermodynamics of Ammonia
Ammonia (R717) as a refrigerant for heat pumps
Ammonia proves to be an ideal refrigerant for industrial heat pumps due to its exceptional efficiency, minimal environmental impact, affordability, excellent heat transfer properties, and chemical stability. Its high coefficient of performance enables efficient heat transfer even at low temperatures, while its low global warming potential and lack of ozone-depleting properties make it environmentally sustainable. Widely available and cost-effective, ammonia offers reliable performance and longevity in industrial applications, where large-scale heating and cooling demands are common, making it a preferred choice for industrial heat pump systems.
Coefficient of Performance (COP)
The coefficient of performance (COP) measures a heat pump's efficiency, linked to the temperature increase known as the temperature lift. Simply put, the higher the temperature lift between the heat source and sink, the lower the COP or efficiency.
For industrial heat pumps, high efficiency is achievable, especially with a COP exceeding three, within a temperature lift range of 30-50 °C. Industrial heat pumps utilizing waste heat sources often reach COP values of 3-4, showcasing their efficient use of existing heat sources. For instance, a COP of 4 indicates that the heat pump generates four units of heat for every unit of energy consumed.
|Decarbonizing with Ammonia Heat Pumps
Ammonia heat pumps contribute to emissions reduction in industrial operations through their efficient utilization of waste heat and renewable energy sources. By harnessing waste heat from industrial processes as a heat source, they minimize the need for additional fossil fuel-based heating, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with conventional heating methods.
Moreover, ammonia heat pumps can integrate renewable energy sources like solar or wind power, further reducing reliance on fossil fuels and lowering overall emissions. Their high efficiency and ability to operate with minimal energy consumption also contribute to emissions reduction by optimizing energy usage in industrial settings. Overall, the adoption of ammonia heat pumps in industrial operations offers a sustainable pathway toward emissions reduction and environmental conservation.
Natural Gas Dilemma: Escalating Costs and Tightening Regulations
As natural gas prices steadily increase alongside the imposition of carbon taxes from 2024 to 2040, industrial heating confronts a pressing dilemma. While traditional natural gas boilers provide reliability and affordability, they pose environmental concerns due to carbon emissions and lower energy efficiency, operating at efficiencies below 90%. Consequently, they consume more energy and incur higher operational costs. With governments enforcing higher carbon taxes to incentivize emissions reductions, the operating costs of natural gas boilers are anticipated to rise significantly, further straining industrial budgets and profitability.
* Natural Gas Rates are End use - from Canada Energy Regulator for 2022, and factor in the cost increase of Carbon tax out to 2040 and fuel cost increase of 2%.
|Sourced from: https://apps.cer-rec.gc.ca/ftrppndc/dflt.aspx?GoCTemplateCulture=en-CA
Making heat completely decarbonized
In the decades ahead, natural gas prices are likely to remain volatile and exhibit no long-term upward or downward trend, but electricity generation costs are gradually declining due to deployment of low-cost wind and solar generation. Additionally, high-temperature heat pump technology may improve in the future, while natural gas technologies are largely mature in this day and age. By combining green electricity sources with natural refrigerant heat pumps in industrial processes, we can see the best results for a move to decarbonization and cost savings.
Case Study: Blatchford, Edmonton
District Heating and Cooling
The heat pump fits like a puzzle piece into the District Energy Sharing System (DESS) at Blatchford, Edmonton. The system is a key element of the community’s plan to be a model for a green, 100% renewable, carbon-neutral community. It provides eco-friendly heating, cooling, and hot water to buildings and homes. The aim of the system is to reduce the community’s energy consumption and cut down GHG emissions by nearly 75%. The low charge Ammonia heat pump (1 MW/300 ton) installed by CIMCO handles both the heating and cooling requirements for buildings. It generates heated recirculated water for five swimming pools in the community center and uses recycled water from the local water treatment plant as its geothermal source. The pump delivers 5 times more heat efficiency compared to a natural gas furnace and serves more than 1,000 homes. Watch the video above to learn more.
Why Choose Ammonia Heat Pumps?
Zero Global Warming Potential
Ammonia heat pumps have a minimal impact on global warming compared to f-gas refrigerants, contributing to environmental sustainability and significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Heat pumps can reduce carbon emissions by displacing fossil fuels with a renewable heat source and using low-carbon grid electricity.
Heat pumps reduce overall energy use due to high thermal efficiencies, especially for low-temperature heating applications and when waste heat sources can be upgraded.
Reliable and Scalable
Heat pumps are a scalable technology compared to bioenergy, providing increased security of supply.
Electrification with heat pumps can enable additional revenue-generating opportunities by providing grid-flexibility services.
Better Product Quality
Heat pumps can introduce product quality improvements where a precise temperature is easier to maintain with a fully electric solution.
As regulations and environmental standards evolve, investing in natural refrigerant heat pumps demonstrates your commitment to sustainability and positions your facility for compliance with future requirements.
Source: "Industrial Heat Pumps: It's Time to Go Electric" report by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.