22 June 2022
Compressor innovation is vital to improving domestic energy efficiency, according to Alan Duncan, CEO of Vert Technologies.
Responding to recent reports on analysis conducted by the International Energy Agency, Duncan said: “The IEA analysis shows that doubling the current rate of energy efficiency efforts, including the roll-out of new technologies, would, by 2030, slash global energy consumption. This is desperately needed as we seek to address the climate challenge, mitigate the growing cost of living crisis, and reduce our concentrated energy dependence on other nations. To reduce the amount of energy used the IEA recommend many measures, including faster roll-out of heat pumps.
“However, many heat pumps currently use hydrofluorocarbon-based refrigerant media with high GWP ratings to keep homes warm, as they are easy to compress with currently available compression technology. The issue lies in the fact that these refrigerants are incredibly damaging when released into the environment, which is a concern that may hamper a swift and sustainable heat pump rollout. Whilst heat pumps themselves may be deemed a more sustainable way to heat (and cool) properties, if they rely on refrigerants that are damaging to the environment when disposed of at end of life, some of that sustainability is being compromised.
“This issue can be addressed by using more environmentally friendly and naturally occurring refrigerant media such as ammonia, propane and carbon dioxide. Unfortunately, this isn’t as simple as it may seem. Many such environmentally friendly alternatives require high pressure ratios and absolute pressures to ensure best performance, which is something that current compressor technology can struggle to achieve. This can impact long-term heat pump performance and lead to scenarios where they need to be daisy-chained, at greater expense, to meet desired pressure ratios and absolute pressures.
“It is possible to increase the capabilities of a heat pump when using low GWP refrigerants by using an internal compressor that can generate the necessary pressure profiles, such as our own conical rotary compressor. Designers are continuing to push technology boundaries in this area, and heat pump manufacturers need to be looking at existing models on a component-by-component basis to see where further overall sustainability improvements can be made.
“Together we can help achieve the government’s ambition to see 600,000 heat pump installations per year being implemented by 2028, cutting our carbon emissions to help slow the impact of global warming. By continuing to develop more capable compression technology, we can play our part in increasing our energy efficiency and easing the financial burden on UK households.”