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14 September 2009

Heat pumps open up new front in race to cut carbon emissions

As new Building Regulations are set to put the squeeze on carbon emissions, air conditioning installers should cash in on a major new opportunity to grow their businesses, says Graham Wright

As you read this, the government consultation on the latest review of Part L of the Building Regulations is about to end. The result, expected early next year, will be important for our industry, as it will create a new framework for achieving the ambitious carbon reduction targets set for the UK.


These require an 80 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This is a very challenging target. Given that almost half of the UK’s carbon emissions come from buildings, and 27 per cent from homes, it is not hard to see where the new focus for action is likely to be.


The aim is for new homes to be net zero carbon from 2016. Paving the way to this target, carbon emission standards for new homes are to be tightened by 25 per cent in 2010, and 44 per cent in 2013.


Achieving this will require a radical change in the way we do things and, not least, the kind of technology we use. The widespread adoption of modern, high efficiency heat pumps in homes will be a major contributor to achieving the goal.


Experience in other parts of the world shows that heat pumps are challenging the gas boiler as the mainstream default solution for providing domestic hot water and heating. As energy prices escalate, this trend will continue.


For air conditioning installers in the UK, particularly those affected by falling split sales in the small commercial sector, the emergence of new heat pump technology provides an opportunity to get involved in a new area with huge potential for the future.


The skills required are directly transferrable, and courses are now readily available on the specifics of handling and servicing heat pumps. Among the new systems coming on-stream, the carbon dioxide-based  C02 ECO system launched by SANYO earlier this year has some unique advantages that are helping to open up the domestic market.


The technology is a genuine first, using carbon dioxide as a refrigerant in a transcritical two-stage compression cycle to produce hot water for use in heating and domestic services for residential and small commercial premises. It does this with outstanding efficiency, producing around 50 per cent less carbon emissions than traditional gas boilers


It is alone in the market in being able to deliver hot water at 65deg C without the need for an additional electric booster heater, required in some competing systems. This overcomes the risk of legionella and contributes to the excellent efficiency of the system.


This is made possible by the particular thermodynamic properties of carbon dioxide as a refrigerant, which has a high discharge temperature, and the innovative design of the ECO system uses this benefit to its full advantage.


Conventional heat pump-based heating systems using HFC refrigerants can only produce water at 45 to 50 deg C. To deliver sufficiently hot water for use directly in domestic hot water systems they have to use an energy-hungry booster heater or secondary duel refrigerant type system. This adds cost, reduces efficiency and increases carbon emissions.


The inverter-controlled system consists of an outdoor heat pump unit, containing the compressor and CO2 refrigerant circuit, linked to a thermal store  containing a heat exchanger and hot water tank, this supplies hot water for washing and can be directly connected to radiators or an under floor system for space heating.


At the heart of the system is SANYO’s pioneering carbon dioxide-based compressor, the world’s first two-stage rotary compressor operating on R744. It is engineered to accommodate the working pressures generated by carbon dioxide and virtually eliminates the risk of leaks.


Unlike HFC-based heat pump systems, the ECO can be used as a high-efficiency drop-in replacement for existing gas-fired boiler installations, without the need for installation of expensive low-temperature radiators - saving money and time in refurbishment projects.


The technology is fully proven, with several years successful application experience in Japan and more than 4000 installations already in Scandinavia. To date, there are more than 200 installations in the UK – the length and breadth of the country.


SANYO has introduced an Approved Installer Scheme covering  C02 ECO. Engineers attend a one-day course on the theoretical and practical design of working with carbon dioxide heat pumps, which equips them to undertake installations and carry out servicing. It also entitles them to apply for any relevant grants covering the technology.


Courses are now available at several centres across the UK, including Whyteleafe in South London, Bristol, Birmingham, and Stockport.


With rising energy costs and environmental concern, this product delivers low-cost, high efficiency heating and hot water – without the use of environmentally damaging HFC refrigerants or diminishing natural gas as a fuel source.


It also has a significant edge on competing products in terms of carbon emissions, health and safety, running costs, performance range, and backward compatibility. It offers a great new source of business for air conditioning companies.


For details on upcoming training courses, call 0845 612 6364.

Click here to find out more about: Sanyo Sales & Marketing Europe GmbH
N.B. The information contained in this entry is provided by the above supplier, and does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher
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