18 May 2017
A thermoacoustic heat pump is a promising innovative heat pump technology which can be applied in the industry to upgrade industrial waste heat. The thermoacoustic heat pump consists of a regenerator flanked by two heat exchangers and placed in a gas (helium) filled acoustic resonator. An acoustic wave is generated and sustained by an acoustic driver in the resonator. The acoustic wave forces the working gas in the regenerator to undergo a Stirling cycle and to pump heat from the low temperature heat exchanger to the high temperature heat exchanger. The advantage of the thermoacoustic heat pump is that it can operate over a large range of (high) temperatures and can achieve large temperature lifts. One of the industrial applications where the application of the thermoacoustic heat pump can be beneficial is the distillation process. Distillation is one of the largest energy consumers processes in refining and bulk chemical industries. In a thermoacoustic heat pump assisted distillation column, latent heat from the condenser in pumped to the reboiler. An energy saving potential of about 10-20 PJ/year is estimated for the Netherlands, 100-200 PJ/year for Europe, and 300-600 PJ/year for the world. This paper presents the design, construction, and test of a bench scale electrically driven thermoacoustic heat pump. A reciprocating piston compressor is tested as acoustic driver for the heat pump.