As geothermal heating systems make their way onto the main stage of renewable heating and cooling technology, enterprising engineers are thinking outside the box and using heat pumps for applications other than typical space heating and cooling. Heat pumps are great at moving heat from one place to another, and here are some unconventional ways our heat pumps have been doing that:
Heat pumps can heat more than just homes and businesses, they can also heat indoor pools! Typically, an indoor pool is heated by a water to water heat pump, which can produce enough hot water to keep the indoor pool warm throughout the year. But by pairing a geothermal heat pump with an indoor pool conditioner, the system is made even more efficient. An indoor pool conditioner is essentially a high-efficiency heat recovery heat pump. It recovers heat from the pool air, leaving the pool room cooled and dehumidified. The recovered heat is then rejected back into the pool water, the airstream, or to an external outdoor condenser.
Waste Heat Recovery
Heat is a precious commodity, and shouldn’t be wasted. Unfortunately, some experts estimate that as much as a third of all heat generated is wasted. Hotels, hospitals, and condo buildings all face this problem, and many have taken steps to try and reduce the amount of heat they waste. Small-scale solutions such as encouraging guests to opt-out of having their towels and sheets washed in hot water every day are helpful, but the best way to elimate heat waste is to use a heat pump to recover the heat before it trickles down the drain.
Here at Nordic Heat Pumps, we’ve had the opportunity to supply heat pumps for several projects involving waste heat recovery, including several hotels and the Granby Zoo. Waste heat recovery is commonly achieved by funnelling the used hot water into a cistern and using that as the supply side for a heat pump instead of a ground loop. The heat pump uses a heat exchanger to harvest the otherwise wasted heat and transfer it to the building’s air stream, domestic hot water supply or the in-floor heating system.
Domestic Hot Water Heating
Next to space heating, hot water heating is the largest consumer of energy in a building (17% in residential buildings). In some cases, such as in a hotel or hospital, that number is even higher. In these cases, thousands of dollars can be saved by using a heat pump to produce domestic hot water.
While each Nordic water to air heat pump is equipped with a desuperheater to help offset the cost of residential hot water heating, we also make heat pumps designed solely for large-scale domestic hot water heating. For hotels or hospitals, a high-temperature water to water heat pump can be connected to a geothermal buffer tank or a waste heat recovery tank and produce the building’s domestic hot water at a fraction of the cost of traditional methods.
Heat pumps don’t just provide heat, they’re great at providing cooling too. In fact, they cool so well they can make ice! Our commercial geothermal heat pump, the W Commercial Series, has been used many times in ice making applications. The most notable cases are the Irving Arena and Vanderhoof Curling Club. In both cases, the heat pumps were fitted with R404a refrigerant, which allowed them to chill the ice surface down to 2•F to create and maintain a high-quality ice surface. The sink side of the heat pump is then used for radiant heating of the spectator area, offices and meeting rooms.
Geothermal heat pumps are versatile machines and as engineers and building owners become more savvy about saving energy, their place in the green building community should continue to grow.
Curious about how our new products are being used in new and unconventional ways? Watch our webinar: Four Heat Pumps that Will Help Your Grow Your Business in 2015.