Air source heat pumps for temperatures down to -29 degrees C, developed

US company Johnson Controls has announced an air-source (air-to-air) heat pump that can operate efficiently at very low temperatures down to -29 degrees Celsius.

The manufacturer already has two models of this type in its portfolio, York YZV and York HMH7, which operate at temperatures as low as -15 degrees Celsius.

The new pump was developed as part of the Cold Climate Heat Pump Challenge, a competition launched by the US Department of Energy. It uses a new type of refrigerant, R-454B, with a global warming potential (GWP) reduced by almost 80%.

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Manufacturer Vaillant explains how an air source heat pump works:

“How is it possible for cold winter air to heat my home? Although this seems like a paradox, it is true, even when the outside temperature is -20°. The outside air is sucked into the heat pump by a fan. Inside, a refrigerant circulates, which is much cooler than the sucked in outside air. On contact, the refrigerant heats up and evaporates, compressing the steam. This process produces heat, which is used to raise the temperature in the underfloor heating system or radiators.”

Working prototypes of air source heat pumps for the Cold Climate Heat Pump Challenge have also been developed by Carrier, Lennox (USA) and Trane Technologies (Ireland).

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Other well-known brands in the race include LG, Daikin and Mitsubishi Electric. If all goes well, the first air-source heat pump models that can operate at extremely low temperatures will debut on the market in 2024.

The US Department of Energy is investing in the development of these models because they are cheaper and more reliable than water-to-water or ground-to-water.

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