18 May 2017
Gas-driven sorption heat pumps (GDSHPs) exhibit possibilities in the reduction of energy use and environmental impact of heating systems that utilise natural gas. By utilising renewable thermal energy from the environment, that is, air, ground or water sources, significant reduction of primary energy use can be achieved. However, high cost, low coefficient of performance (COP) and large volume per unit thermal power produced have limited the proliferation of GDSHPs. In this work, exploiting the benefits of reversible chemical reactions in sorption systems, with no internal moving parts, noise, vibration and maintenance-free reactor design, two novel modular prototype sorption components were developed and evaluated experimentally. They were designed to operate as part of an intermittent cycle GDSHP to deliver heat directly to a load or to a stratified hot water store. Prototype 1 was an ammonia-salt basic sorption unit while prototype 2 was an ammonia-salt resorption unit both employing proprietary composite sorbent materials. Test results showed that the prototype 2 reactor produced a specific heating capacity of 46 W/litre at a temperature lift of 50°C yielding a COP of 1.38. Prototype 1 demonstrated higher heating capacity of 73 W/litre at a temperature lift of 70°C but exhibited lower COP of 1.10. Given its higher COP but lower temperature lift, prototype 2 could be employed in a GDSHP designed for moderate heating demands or where a ground source heat exchanger is employed as the low temperature heat source. In the case where a higher temperature lift is required, for example, for an air-source GDSHP unit then the prototype 1 design would be more applicable.