As we move further away from fossil fuels, one thing is for sure and that’s the rise of natural refrigerants and how much more energy efficient operations can potentially be when equipment like gas boilers are replaced with heat pumps containing nat refs (natural refrigerants) such as low charge ammonia.
Fossil fuel boilers using either gas, coal or oil can be replaced by heat pumps in a range of applications. For example, a hot water system can be replaced by regular heat pumps and a high temperature heat pump can be used to modify equipment for large industrial applications. Heat pumps contain refrigerants but not all contain natural refrigerants.
With the world building sector using about 32% of all energy generated and more than a third of it being used for heating and cooling, these buildings are a key target for emission reduction.
Heat pumps have dramatically reduced greenhouse gas emissions, approaching zero if renewable energy is used. Therefore, if we only use high-efficiency heat pumps going forward, the energy expenditure for buildings could be reduced by 30% to 40% according to ‘Project Drawdown’ – The World’s Leading Resource for Climate Solutions.
Currently only 3% of global delivered heat comes from heat pumps, but Project Drawdown expects this to increase to 20%-40% by 2050, saving up to 9.3 gigatons of CO2e emissions.
Claus Schøn Poulsen, Center Manager at the Danish Technological Institute, says; “A widespread growth for heat pumps is expected [in 2021] as we turn our focus to electrification, and we are about to kick in the door when it comes to small heat pumps for residential housing”.
However, it is not enough to switch to heat pumps; they need to be natural refrigerant heat pumps, not HFC ones, according to Menno van der Hoff, Chief Executive Director of TripleAqua Licensing, a Dutch heat pump manufacturer. There is a “future necessity” to use natural refrigerants in HVAC due to tightening f-gas regulations, van der Hoff said during the ATMO/DTI Technical Conference in June 2020, stressing that manufacturers are already adapting and launching more natural refrigerant models.
All of the most commonly used natural refrigerants are suitable for heat pumps, according to Poulsen. “Natural refrigerants such as hydrocarbons, CO2 [R744] and ammonia [R717] will in particular apply to large heat pumps, whereas smaller heat pumps will involve the use of hydrocarbons and to some extent CO2.” To read the original article in full, click here.
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