CO2 Heat Pumps

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research


What it is

CO2 heat pumps utilize carbon dioxide (CO2) as the refrigerant, offering a natural and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional refrigerants. CO2 heat pumps are known for their high efficiency, particularly in heating applications, and their ability to operate at high temperatures, making them suitable for various industrial and commercial uses.

Impact on climate action

CO2 Heat Pumps under the theme of Heat Pumps significantly advance climate action by providing efficient heating and cooling solutions with lower environmental impact. By utilizing CO2 as a refrigerant, these pumps reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote energy efficiency, and accelerate the transition to a sustainable, low-carbon heating and cooling sector.

Underlying
Technology

  • Transcritical Cycle: CO2 operates in a transcritical cycle, meaning it transitions between a subcritical liquid state and a supercritical fluid state during the refrigeration cycle. This allows for higher operating temperatures and improved efficiency, especially in heating applications.
  • High Operating Pressures: CO2 systems operate at higher pressures compared to traditional refrigerants, requiring specialized components and safety considerations.
  • Environmental Benefits: CO2 is a natural refrigerant with a low global warming potential (GWP) of 1, making it an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional refrigerants with high GWP.

TRL : 7-8

Prominent Innovation themes

  • Two-Stage Compression Systems: Two-stage compression systems improve the efficiency of CO2 heat pumps, particularly in cooling applications.
  • Ejector Technology: Ejectors can be used to improve the efficiency of CO2 heat pumps by recovering energy from the high-pressure side of the system.
  • Hybrid CO2 Systems: Hybrid systems combine CO2 with other refrigerants to optimize performance and efficiency for different applications.
  • CO2 Heat Pump Water Heaters: CO2 heat pumps are being used in water heaters to provide efficient and sustainable hot water solutions.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Transcritical Cycle Efficiency
  • High-Pressure Operations
  • Two-Stage Compression Advancements
  • Ejector Technology Integration
  • Hybrid System Optimization
  • Water Heating Solutions
  • Industrial Refrigeration Applications
  • Residential Cooling Innovations
  • District Heating Research
  • Renewable Energy Integration
  • System Design Optimization

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  1. Shecco:
    • Technology Enhancement: Shecco is a market accelerator focusing on natural refrigerants, including CO2 (carbon dioxide). They work on developing and promoting heat pump solutions that utilize CO2 as a refrigerant, particularly in heating applications. CO2 heat pumps leverage the natural properties of carbon dioxide to provide efficient and environmentally friendly heating solutions.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Shecco stands out for its dedication to promoting natural refrigerants and sustainable cooling and heating solutions. They collaborate with industry stakeholders to drive the adoption of CO2 heat pumps, advocating for environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional heating systems.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Shecco serves a wide range of end-user segments, including residential, commercial, and industrial customers seeking energy-efficient and environmentally friendly heating solutions. Their CO2 heat pumps are suitable for various applications, including space heating, hot water production, and process heating.
  2. Mayekawa:
    • Technology Enhancement: Mayekawa is a leading manufacturer of industrial refrigeration and heat pump systems. They offer CO2 heat pump solutions for heating and hot water applications, utilizing their expertise in refrigeration technology. Mayekawa’s CO2 heat pumps are designed for high efficiency and reliability, providing sustainable heating solutions for commercial and industrial customers.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Mayekawa stands out for its extensive experience and innovation in refrigeration and heat pump technology. They have been at the forefront of developing CO2 heat pump solutions, leveraging their expertise to address the growing demand for energy-efficient and environmentally friendly heating systems.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Mayekawa serves a diverse range of industries, including food processing, cold storage, and manufacturing, where heating requirements are significant. Their CO2 heat pumps cater to commercial and industrial customers seeking sustainable and cost-effective heating solutions to meet their operational needs.
  3. Panasonic:
    • Technology Enhancement: Panasonic is a global electronics manufacturer known for its innovative heating and cooling solutions. They offer CO2 heat pump systems for residential and commercial applications, designed to provide efficient and eco-friendly heating and hot water. Panasonic’s CO2 heat pumps incorporate advanced heat pump technology and smart controls for optimal performance and comfort.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Panasonic stands out for its consumer-focused approach to CO2 heat pump technology. They prioritize energy efficiency, user convenience, and environmental sustainability in their heating solutions, making them suitable for residential and small commercial applications.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Panasonic serves residential and light commercial customers seeking energy-efficient and environmentally friendly heating solutions. Their CO2 heat pumps are ideal for homes, apartments, small businesses, and other settings where space heating and hot water needs are essential.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  1. Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU):
    • Research Focus: NTNU is a pioneer in research on CO2 Heat Pumps, focusing on the development of advanced heat pump systems that utilize carbon dioxide (CO2) as the refrigerant for heating and cooling applications.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves the design and optimization of CO2 heat pumps for various heating and cooling scenarios, including residential, commercial, and industrial settings. They explore novel compression cycles, heat exchanger designs, and control strategies to improve energy efficiency, system reliability, and environmental performance.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in space heating, domestic hot water production, and industrial process heating. By leveraging CO2 as a natural refrigerant, NTNU’s research contributes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, enhancing energy security, and promoting sustainable heating and cooling solutions in cold climate regions.
  2. Technical University of Denmark (DTU):
    • Research Focus: DTU conducts innovative research on CO2 Heat Pumps, leveraging its expertise in thermodynamics, fluid dynamics, and heat transfer to develop high-efficiency heat pump technologies for diverse applications.
    • Uniqueness: Their research encompasses the development of CO2 heat pumps for space heating, district heating, and industrial heat recovery applications. They investigate advanced cycle configurations, component materials, and system integration techniques to overcome technical challenges and improve overall system performance.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work find applications in residential buildings, commercial facilities, and industrial processes. By advancing CO2 heat pump technology, DTU’s research supports the transition to renewable heating and cooling solutions, reduces energy consumption, and enhances the resilience of energy systems to climate change impacts.
  3. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign:
    • Research Focus: The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is engaged in cutting-edge research on CO2 Heat Pumps, leveraging its expertise in thermodynamics, materials science, and energy systems engineering to develop innovative heat pump technologies.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves exploring CO2 heat pumps for space conditioning, refrigeration, and waste heat recovery applications. They focus on improving system efficiency, durability, and cost-effectiveness through advanced modeling and simulation, experimental validation, and field testing.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in residential and commercial buildings, food processing facilities, and industrial manufacturing. By developing CO2 heat pump solutions, UIUC’s research contributes to reducing energy consumption, lowering carbon emissions, and enhancing the sustainability of heating and cooling systems.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

CO2 heat pumps are commercially available and are being increasingly adopted in various applications, including supermarkets, industrial refrigeration, and heat pump water heaters. Their adoption is driven by their high efficiency, environmental benefits, and the phase-down of traditional refrigerants with high GWP.