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Title: Low-Cost Gas Heat Pump for Building Space Heating

Gas-fired residential space heating in the U.S is predominantly supplied by furnaces and boilers. These technologies have been approaching their thermodynamic limit over the past 30 years and improvements for high efficiency units have approached a point of diminishing return. Electric heat pumps are growing in popularity but their heating performance at low ambient temperatures is poor. The development of a low-cost gas absorption heat pump would offer a significant improvement to current furnaces and boilers, and in heating dominated climate zones when compared to electric heat pumps. Gas absorption heat pumps (GAHP) exceed the traditional limit of thermal efficiency encountered by typical furnaces and boilers, and maintain high levels of performance at low ambient temperatures. The project team designed and demonstrated two low-cost packaged prototype GAHP space heating systems during the course of this investigation. Led by Stone Mountain Technologies Inc. (SMTI), with support from A.O. Smith, and the Gas Technology Institute (GTI), the cross-functional team completed research and development tasks including cycle modeling, 8× scaling of a compact solution pump, combustion system development, breadboard evaluation, fabrication of two packaged prototype units, third party testing of the first prototype, and the evaluation of cost and energy savings compared tomore » high and minimum efficiency gas options. Over the course of the project and with the fabrication of two Alpha prototypes it was shown that this technology met or exceeded most of the stated project targets. At ambient temperatures of 47, 35, 17 and -13°F the prototypes achieved gas based coefficients of performance of 1.50, 1.44, 1.37, and 1.17, respectively. Both units operated with parasitic loads well below the 750 watt target with the second Alpha prototype operating 75-100 watts below the first Alpha prototype. Modulation of the units at 4:1 was achieved with the project goal of 2:1 modulation, which will allow for improved load matching. In addition, the energy savings analysis showed that a house in Albany, NY, Chicago, IL and Minneapolis, MN would save roughly 32, 28.5 and 36.5 MBtu annually when compared to a 100% efficient boiler, respectively. The gas absorption heat pump achieves this performance by using high grade heat from the combustion of natural gas in combination with low grade heat extracted from the ambient to produce medium grade heat suitable for space and water heating. Expected product features include conventional outdoor installation practices, 4:1 modulation, and reasonable economic payback. These factors position the technology to gain significant market penetration, resulting in a large reduction of energy use and greenhouse gas emissions for residential space heating.« less
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  1. Stone Mountain Technologies, Inc., Johnson City, TN (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Stone Mountain Technologies, Inc., Johnson City, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Building Technologies Office (EE-5B)
Contributing Orgs:
A.O Smith Corporation, Milwaukee, WI (United States); Gas Technology Institute, Chicago, Il (United States)
Country of Publication:
United States
32 ENERGY CONSERVATION, CONSUMPTION, AND UTILIZATION; 03 NATURAL GAS; heat pump; gas; absorption; space heating; water heating; absorption cycle; ammonia-water; gas absorption heat pumpvlow temperature heat pump