Refrigerant mixture makes heat pumps flexible

12 June 2024 12:11

Zurich CCGreater ZurichSt.GallenBodensee

Supporting partner

Zurich/Buchs - Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and OST Eastern Switzerland University of Applied Sciences have discovered how industrial heat pumps can flexibly generate different temperatures of up to 200 degrees. The process is based on a mixture of refrigerants.

Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH) and OST Eastern Switzerland University of Applied Sciences in Buchs in the canton of St.Gallen have developed an approach that allows industrial heat pumps to generate heat flexibly at different temperatures of up to 200 degrees. 

Conventional heat pumps in industrial processes are usually designed for a specific application and its associated temperature, explains the ETH in a statement. Switching to a different application is expensive and complicated. This explains why the new approach developed by the two universities’ researchers has already generated great interest among Swiss and international companies, says the ETH.

The temperature that a heat pump and its temperature curve can reach depends largely on the refrigerant used. All the heat pump’s other components are therefore designed for the respective refrigerant. In their new approach, however, the researchers used a refrigerant mixture. Depending on the ratio of the ingredients, different temperature curves can be generated for industrial processes.

To find the optimum refrigerant mixture, the researchers used a computer model to simulate combinations of over 200 million known synthetic molecules. They then successfully tested the optimum mixture, consisting of two components, in the OST Heat-Pump Laboratory.

“The tests showed that our mixture increases the efficiency of a commercially available industrial heat pump by up to 25 per cent, just as we predicted,” Professor Stefan Bertsch, Head of the Heat-Pump Laboratory, is quoted as saying. ce/hs

Supporting partner

Swiss Pavilion Digital

Previous newsletters