Quebec engineering consulting firm CIMA+ is part of a group of companies and government organizations who have joined to demonstrate a new gas absorption heat pump.
Developed by Robur of Italy, the new heat pump is said to “break through the efficiency barrier.” According to Natural Resources Canada’s Office of Energy Efficiency, the pump achieves an efficiency of 1.3 — in other words, it produces 30% more heat than what it consumes in natural gas units to power it.
Most heat pumps today operate with electrical compressors, but the Robur technology is thermally activated and fuelled by natural gas. Thus, it avoids the energy conversion losses normally associated with electrical thermal-power plant production.
A modern high-efficiency natural gas furnace that condenses water vapour from its own combustion achieves a heating efficiency of 95%.
Besides CIMA+, partners in the group supporting the demonstration project of the gas absorption heat pump are Gaz Metro, the Energy Efficiency Fund, the Canadian GeoExchange Coalition, CANMET Energy Technology Centre – Ottawa, and the Societe d’habitation et de developpement de Montreal.
A report on the technology was in Heads Up, CIPEC, the newsletter of the Office of Energy Efficiency on April 1, 2008.
The report noted that besides giving high efficiency, the gas absorption heat pump can supply water at a higher temperature than geothermal electrical heat pumps. It can supply hot water at over 60 degrees C, compared to 43 degrees C for electrical heat pumps.
However, in cooling mode the gas absorption heat pump is less efficient than an electrical one, so it might be more efficient to combine the two technologies, said Sebastien Lajoie, technical advisor at Gaz Metro.
See www.robur.com, and http://oee.nrcan.gc.ca/industrial/technical-info/library/newsletter