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The World of Natural Gas

Gas Heat Pumps


Efficient heating and cooling with natural gas

The World of Natural Gas

Gas Heat Pumps


Efficient heating and cooling with natural gas

The World of Natural Gas

Gas Heat Pumps


Efficient heating and cooling with natural gas

GasTerra / Castel International Publishers


Groningen, The Netherlands

Development Holland b.v., Harderwijk, the Netherlands. BDH is an


expert organisation in the field of strategy development and
marketing communications for the utility, housing and energy
sectors.
Authors: Ernst-Jan Bakker (ECN), Jeroen van der Garde (KIWA
Gas Technology), Kees Jansen (KIWA Gas Technology), Roberto
Traversari (TNO Bouw en Ondergrond), Peter Wagener (Business
Development Holland)
Editors: Margot van Gastel (Cogen Projects), Peter Oostendorp
(HR Advies)
Editorial Board: Henk Ensing (GasTerra), Benne Holwerda
(Holwerda & Holwerda), Peter Wagener (BDH)
Editors GasTerra: Anton Buijs, Henk Ensing, Hans Overdiep
English translation and editing: WTS Vertalingen B.V.
Figures and illustrations: Business Development Holland, Cogen
Projects, ECN, Gasengineering, KIWA Gas Technology, TNO Bouw
en Ondergrond, Vital Fitness Centre, CE Delft, Ecofys, Anita
Pantius, GEA Polacel, Itho, ICE, EnergieNed, Techneco, Remeha,
Orfeokliniek Zoetermeer, Genie, Sportfondsen Nederland, Stratus,
Endex, GasTerra, Ariston, Universitt Dortmund, Thermax, Broad,
Sonnenklima, Solarnext, Warwick University, Nyteknik, GEA
Grasso, Alfa Laval
Concept and realisation: Castel International Publishers
Design: Eldad Groenman, Antoon van Son
en Susanna Kuiper (Castel Mediaproducties)
2010 GasTerra / Castel International Publishers
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced,
stored in an automated database, or published in any form or in
any way, electronically, mechanically, by photo print, microfilm or
any other means, without prior written consent from the publisher.
ISBN 978-90-79147-12-0
NUR 600
www.bdho.nl
www.castel.nl
www.gasterra.nl

Contents

This book has been compiled and co-written by Business

Introduction
Preface

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10

Chapter 1 Natural gas and the energy transition


1.1 The Netherlands and natural gas
1.2 Advantages of natural gas
1.3 Energy transition
1.4 Availability of natural gas
1.5 Other gases

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13
14
14
15
16

Chapter 2 Gas heat pumps in the built environment


2.1 Natural gas for heating and cooling
2.1.1 Public and commercial buildings
2.1.2 Development of public and commercial
building in the Netherlands
2.1.3 Development of heating in public and
commercial buildings
2.1.4 Development of cooling in public
and commercial building
2.2 How heat pumps work
2.2.1 Operating principle
2.2.2 Gas engine heat pumps
2.2.3 Gas absorption heat pumps
2.2.4 Reliability
2.3 Environmental impacts of gas heat pumps
2.4 The potential for gas heat pumps
2.4.1 New buildings
2.4.2 Existing buildings
2.4.3 Feasible potential
2.4.4 Small collective systems
2.5 Gas heat pumps and legislation
2.5.1 CE mark
2.5.2 Gas heat pump quality label
2.5.3 Energy Performance of Buildings Directive
2.5.4 Gas heat pumps and the EPN

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19

Chapter 3 The technology of heat pumps


3.1 Heat pumps and efficiencies
3.2 Engine-driven heat pumps with gas engine
3.2.1 Gas engine-driven compression heat pumps
3.2.2 Gas engine-driven compression heat pumps, multisplit type

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37

3.3 Engine-driven heat pumps with external combustion


3.3.1 The Stirling cycle
3.3.2 Stirling-Stirling
3.3.3 Thermo-acoustic systems
3.3.4 Vuilleumier
3.4 Thermally driven heat pumps
3.4.1 Thermally driven sorption heat pumps
3.4.2 Liquid sorption systems
3.4.3 Ammonia-water systems
3.4.4 Lithium bromide-water systems
3.4.5 ASUE gas absorption heat pumps
3.5 Solid sorption heat pump
3.5.1 Silica gel-water adsorption heat pump
3.5.2 Zeolite-water heat pumps
3.6 Alternative solid-sorption systems
3.6.1 Solid-ammonia
3.6.2 LiCl-H20

Chapter 4 Design aspects and use in buildings
4.1 Electric or gas-driven?
4.2 Designs in new and existing buildings
4.3 Care sector
4.3.1 New buildings
4.3.2 Existing buildings
4.4 Offices
4.4.1 New buildings
4.4.2 Existing buildings
4.5 Hotel and recreational sector
4.5.1 New buildings
4.5.2 Existing buildings
4.6 Retail sector
4.6.1 New buildings
4.6.2 Existing buildings
4.7 Design aspects
4.7.1 Distribution systems
4.7.2 Buffers
4.7.3 Sources
4.7.4 Integrating a gas heat pump
4.7.5 User aspects

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54
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84

Contents

Chapter 5 Heat pump systems and components


5.1 Efficiencies
5.2 Gas engine heat pumps
5.2.1 System overview
5.2.2 Gas engines
5.2.3 Compressors
5.2.4 Expansion valves
5.2.5 Heat exchangers
5.2.6 Gas engine heat pumps in the Netherlands
5.3 Absorption heat pumps
5.3.1 Small-scale absorption heat pumps
5.3.2 Large-scale absorption heat pumps
5.4 Optimisation of heat pump systems
5.4.1 Design of gas engine heat pumps
5.4.2 Design of absorption heat pumps
5.5 Control
5.5.1 Main control
5.5.2 Heating curve
5.5.3 Cooling capacity
5.6 The current product range

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98
102
105
106
107
108
108
109
109
109
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113

Chapter 6 Economic analysis


6.1 Economic analysis
6.1.1 Investment costs and benefits
6.1.2 Financial feasibility
6.1.3 Maintenance and management
6.1.4 Energy prices
6.1.5 Financial and tax schemes
6.2 Total cost of ownership
6.2.1 Costs of natural gas
6.2.2 Costs of electricity
6.2.3 Taxes
6.2.4 Exploitation calculation
6.3 Financing

Chapter 7 Demonstration projects
7.1 Cinema CineMagnus, Schagen
7.2 Orfeokliniek, Zoetermeer
7.3 Vital Fitness Centre, Raalte
7.4 Apartment buildings Schalkwijk, Haarlem

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115
116
117
117
120
121
122
123
124
124
127
131
132
134
136
138

7.5 Day-care centre De Lotusbloem, Aalsmeer


7.6 Sportfondsen Nederland, swimming pools
7.7 Shopping Centre, Geleen
7.8 Natuurcentrum, Ameland
7.9 Genie, technical consultancy firm, Grootebroek

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144
146
148

Appendix
Calculating gas heat pumps

151

Definitions

156

Conversion tables

160

List of abbreviations and symbols

163

Bibliography

164

Index

166

Corporate Statement GasTerra

170

Gas Heat Pumps

Introduction

GasTerra is of the opinion that natural gas will play an important role in the global energy supply far
into the 21st century. This view is based on facts and prognoses. It is a fact that these fossil fuels still
supply 90% or more of primary energy needs. It is also a fact that, relatively speaking, natural gas
has the best properties and the least environmental impact of all fossil fuels.
Gas reserves will last far into this century. In this era of transition to more sustainable forms of
energy, renewable sources are gaining significance. Prognoses based on current facts indicate
that renewable sources will contribute significantly to the total energy supply by the middle of
this century. Nevertheless, it remains clear that together with oil and coal, natural gas will be an
important energy source in the first half of this century - even in the event of an acceleration in the
conservation process.
This creates a twofold responsibility: we must not allow the share of natural gas to drop below its
current high level; at the same time we must find ways to shorten the transition period to a truly
sustainable energy economy.
GasTerra applies its expertise to consider transition-related opportunities in the field of natural gas:
what can be done more economically, cleanly and effectively? GasTerra also feels obligated to share
its knowledge in this field and to encourage social debate. After all, energy developments affect
everyone. There appears to be a great need for information. GasTerra has therefore decided to
publish a series of books that fill this need.

Introduction

This book explains how gas heat pumps can improve the efficiency of energy use in commercial
buildings and apartment blocks. The content has been compiled and written by Business Development
Holland b.v., in close collaboration with TNO Bouw en Ondergrond, KIWA GasTechnology and ECN.
GasTerra, in its capactiy as commissioning party, has had no contextual involvement other than this
introduction but does agree with the content of this book. The authors deserve our appreciation for this
comprehensive overview, which contributes to both the knowledge and use of efficient energy.
Previous publications in the World of Gas series pertain to natural gas and energy transition,
combined heat and power, and the history of natural gas. Planned publications will deal with space
heating and green gas. All earlier publications in this series are available upon request.

Anton Buijs
Communication Manager GasTerra B.V.

Gas Heat Pumps

Preface

It is perhaps stating the obvious, but there is no cleaner energy than unused energy. Those who aim
to build a sustainable energy economy at times lose sight of this simple fact. Renewable sources such
as wind, sun and biomass are simply not sufficient yet. Energy efficiency is therefore an absolute
must, because by reducing the amount of fossil fuels we burn we immediately reduce CO2 emissions.
High efficiency natural gas applications can help in this respect. Natural gas is the cleanest of all
fossil fuels and is adaptable in its use. Furthermore, it is very suitable for innovative energy-efficient
solutions in the transition phase towards a fully sustainable energy economy.
GasTerra has its own energy transition programme with promising projects in the field of
smart i.e. efficient natural gas applications. An illustrative result of our active transition policy is
the successor to the condensing heating boiler, namely the micro CHP. Actually, it is a micro-sized
cogeneration plant. Cogeneration plants produce heat and power; subsequently their efficiency is
substantially higher than that of conventional power plants. On balance, large-scale use of micro
CHPs would therefore significantly reduce CO2 emissions.

10

Preface

Our company also applies itself to gas heat pumps. The advantage of these heat pumps as compared
to electric versions is that they are relatively simple to integrate into the current energy infrastructure.
The electricity grid does not need to be reinforced, for example. In time, gas heat pumps will also run
on a mixture of natural gas and green gas, thus further increasing the share of sustainable energy.
We expect that gas heat pumps will become an important transition technology in existing public
and utility buildings and collective systems.
We trust this book will contribute to this innovation.

Gertjan Lankhorst
CEO GasTerra B.V.

11

Chapter 1 | Natural gas and the energy transition

Chapter 1

Natural gas and the


energy transition
Fossil energy sources are indispensable in the gradual transition to sustainable power supply
(the so-called energy transition). Of the three fossil energy sources (natural gas, petroleum
and coal), natural gas has several major advantages: it has a high efficiency and the lowest
emission of CO2 and it is easy to regulate. Moreover, the Netherlands has its own gas reserves
and an excellent gas infrastructure. Efficient use of natural gas, especially in developed areas,
can provide opportunities for developing new sustainable energy options. Natural gas can thus
effectively support the transition process. Dutch gas reserves are large enough to meet demand
during the transition period.
1.1 The Netherlands and natural gas
In the first half of the 20th century, energy in the Netherlands
was mainly based on coal. In 1959 a gas field was discovered in
the town of Slochteren in the Dutch province of Groningen. It
is one of the largest fields in Europe and its discovery brought
about significant changes in the supply of energy. Starting in
the early 1960s, coal was replaced by natural gas on a large
scale basis. The discovery of natural gas had an undeniable
influence on the Dutch economy. In the 1960s and 1970s
many energy-intensive activities started up, such as glasshouse cultivation and the production of artificial fertilisers and
aluminium. Between 1965 and 1980 natural gas developed into
the most important primary energy source of the Netherlands.
Nowadays natural gas is used virtually exclusively for heating
the built environment. This is less so elsewhere in Europe.

Natural gas currently meets approximately 50% of the total


energy demand in the Netherlands. Almost 50% of the
electricity in the Netherlands is also generated by means of
natural gas.
Natural gas is popular in the Netherlands mainly because of
its own reserves and excellent transport infrastructure, but its
popularity is also prompted by its relatively low nitrogen oxide
emissions in combustion processes and the absence of sulphur.
Of all fossil fuels, natural gas emits the lowest amount of CO2
during combustion due to its relatively favourable carbon/
hydrogen ratio.

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Gas Heat Pumps

1.2 Advantages of natural gas


Natural gas boasts several advantages as compared to other
fossil fuels.
Low emissions - Natural gas has the most favourable chemical
composition of all fossil fuels. For the most part, natural gas
consists of methane (CH4), with one carbon atom to four
hydrogen atoms per molecule. Other types of fossil fuels have
longer and more complex carbon chains. Natural gas emits
the lowest amount of CO2 per unit of energy owing to its
favourable carbon/hydrogen ratio. Figure 1 presents the CO2
emissions of the different types of fuel upon combustion. As
compared to natural gas, coal emits almost double the amount
of CO2. When using natural gas the emissions of fine particles,
SO2 and NOx are also considerably lower as compared to the
use of coal or petroleum. Emissions of fine particles and SO2
are negligible because natural gas contains no significant traces of sulphur. The formation of NOx in the combustion process can be reduced substantially by means of sophisticated
techniques.
Economical technology - Heat and electricity from natural
gas can be produced with a very high efficiency. Natural gas
technology is therefore relatively economical.

Support for sustainable sources - Sustainable energy


sources such as onshore and offshore wind energy, solar
energy and biomass must constitute an increasingly larger
portion of the future energy supply. Availability however
requires attention, particularly of wind energy and solar
energy. In their case, supply and demand are seldom
simultaneous, whereas the balance between supply and
demand is vital for electricity. The advantage of electricity
produced on the basis of natural gas is that it can be regulated
relatively easy. Furthermore, the technology is suitable for
virtually any production scale. Natural gas is therefore
an excellent backup for small-scale or large-scale use of
renewable sources. This backup simplifies the integration of
renewable energy.

1.3 Energy transition


In line with the European Unions long-term goals, the Dutch
government has expressed its ambition to supply only sustainable
energy in the Netherlands. The transition from the current
situation (in which fossil fuels are predominant) to sustainable
energy requires time and major investments. A gradual process
is therefore crucial.

187
200
153
150

77,696
100

13,465

100

2,092
18,726

50

73,120

Gas

Figure 1

14

Oil

Coal

Specific CO2 emissions of natural gas, petroleum and coal.

Not yet discovered potential


Not yet discovered potential
Reserves

Figure 2 Proven reserves, supplies and presumed reserves of natural


gas in the world (in billions of m3/year).

Chapter 1 | Natural gas and the energy transition

In its policy the Dutch government has formulated ambitious


interim goals with respect to saving energy and reducing emissions.
They entail a 30% reduction of greenhouse gases (CO2 in particular)
in 2020 as compared to emissions in 1990. Furthermore,
energy saving must double to 2% per year and the share of
sustainable energy in 2020 must be 20% of the total energy
use. In this respect, the reduction in CO2 emissions is considered
an indication of the degree of sustainability of the Netherlands
energy management. Emissions that are harmful to air quality,
such as NOx and particulate matter, also call for a transition of
the energy supply.
On a European level, targets have been formulated to radically
reduce the emission of CO2 and to increase the share of
renewable energy proportionally. However, there is still a rising
trend in the energy consumption of individuals and companies
(particularly in the use of electricity). Increasing prosperity and
a growing demand for air conditioning make it hard to break
this trend. The expected increase in energy consumption is at
best compensated by insulation measures and by the use of more
efficient appliances and installations. The demand for electricity
is not expected to decrease appreciably. Nevertheless, by 2050
the member states of the European Union aim to emit only 20%
of the CO2 emissions measured in 2005. This reduction is to
be realised largely by deploying renewable energy sources in
combination with clean use of fossil energy and CO2 storage.

approximately 40% is produced in European Union member


states. The remaining 60% is imported via pipelines and LNG
ships (LNG: Liquefied Natural Gas). Approximately 260 billion
cubic metres are imported from Norway and Russia; 60 billion
cubic metres come from Nigeria and Algeria in particular and are
imported in the form of LNG (2005 figures).
The Netherlands and Denmark are the only countries in the
European Union to extract more gas than they consume. The
Netherlands has the largest reserves within the European Union.
Norway (not an EU member state) has the largest reserves in the
region. With its low domestic use, Norway is a major exporter of
natural gas.

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38

Expectations are that fossil fuels will figure largely in the supply of
energy for the next 40 years. For now, Europe cannot do without
crude oil, coal and natural gas. Of the three fossil fuels natural
gas is the most attractive. Most transition scenarios therefore
base the move towards sustainability on the use of natural gas.

10

14

16

17
45

77
17

1.4 Availability of natural gas

The European Union countries use approximately 500 billion


cubic metres of natural gas per year (as per 2005), of which

63

87

62

Natural gas as a transition fuel

The world still has large quantities of natural gas in proven reserves, the largest (approximately half of the worlds gas supply)
being in Russia. Iran, Qatar and West Siberia are other countries
and regions with large proven gas reserves.

Other
member
states

91

11

33
12

Consumption
Production

Figure 3 European natural gas consumption and production in 2005


(in billions of m3/year). Source: CE Delft/ECN 2007

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Gas Heat Pumps

Area

Proven reserves

Discovered and not yet Total


discovered potential

Norway

2,890

4,000

6,890

The Netherlands

1,350

600

1,950

Germany

160

400

560

Great Britain

480

1,500

1,980
128

Ireland

28

100

Denmark

80

80

Austria

24

25

49

France
Italy
Hungary

160

200

360

73

100

173

Poland

100

200

300

Romania

630

400

1,030

Table 1 Proven reserves, supplies and presumed reserves of natural


gas in Europe (billions of m3). Source: OGP (2003) and BP (2007)

The Netherlands aspires to being the gas hub of Europe, with


the Dutch gas transport network functioning as a junction for
importing, buffering and exporting large gas flows. As part
of this plan, the Netherlands is building two LNG terminals so
as to enable the gas flows from Algeria and the Middle East,
for instance, to connect to the gas hub concept as well. The
supply of natural gas over long distances is only profitable in
liquid form (LNG).
Based on current knowledge and views, the proven Dutch gas
reserves are more than sufficient to meet domestic demand for
another 40 years to come. Experience shows that wherever gas
is extracted, there is more gas than proven to date. Furthermore,
diversification and a steadily growing share of renewable energy
will gradually decrease the use of natural gas. The Netherlands
therefore has plenty of gas reserves to cover the transition period
towards fully sustainable energy (40 to 50 years, with gradually
decreasing gas consumption).

1.5 Other gases


Other forms of gaseous fuels will also play a role in the energy
transition process in addition to natural gas. These can be clean
fossil gases (such as coal gas in combination with CO2 storage), as
well as gases from biomass and other renewable energy sources.

16

The latter category is generally referred to as green gas.


Green gas is receiving a lot of notice these days. On a global
scale, however, green gas competes with food production
and therefore demands attention. To prevent strain on food
production more and more emphasis is laid on the gasification
of residual materials from agricultural processes. Green gas or
biogas is produced on a modest scale through fermentation or
gasification. If the quality of the produced gas suffices, it can be
mixed on a limited scale into the existing gas infrastructure. In
the meantime, the energy sector has already gained experience
with landfill gas and gas from local fermentation installations.
Practice has provided sufficient evidence that it is technically
possible to generate biogas into sufficiently dry and cleangreen
gas. However, biogas will need to meet additional quality
requirements in the future.
Coal gasification offers prospects for producing syngas on
an industrial scale with annual volumes of 380 to 400 million
cubic metres. This is only worthwhile if the emitted CO2 can be
captured and stored. The gas created through coal gasification
still needs to be treated before it can be mixed with natural gas.
Europe has big plans for green gas, as does the Netherlands.
The Cramer Committee has made recommendations to set up a
certification system for green gas, similar to that which already
applies to green electricity. The Green Gas Transition study
group (under the direction of Agentschap NL, formerly known
as SenterNovem) assumes a tentative maximum of 4% of
the natural gas can be replaced by biogas. With a natural gas
consumption of 1542 PJ in 2020, according to the Global
Economy scenario, the potential for green gas is therefore 62 PJ.
This figure is substantiated by other assessments. Beyond 2020
the Green Gas study group foresees a strong increase in the share
of bio gasification, rising to 12% of the natural gas consumption
in 2030.

Chapter 1 | Natural gas and the energy transition

17

Chapter 2 | Gas heat pumps in the built environment

Chapter 2

Gas heat pumps in


the built environment
In the Netherlands, natural gas is by far the most popular fuel for heating buildings. Boosted
by the excellent gas infrastructure, condensing heating boilers (or high-efficiency boilers) have
become the standard technology in the built environment. Heat pumps are the next true step
in efficiency improvement. Heat pumps running on natural gas relieve the electricity grid and
have the advantage of low primary energy consumption. Gas heat pumps therefore have
considerable potential in the built environment in the Netherlands.
2.1 Natural gas for heating and cooling
Natural gas is used in all sectors of the Dutch economy. Figure 1
on page 20 shows the distribution of the total natural gas
consumption over the various sectors in the Netherlands in 2006.
In the Netherlands, natural gas plays a prominent role in the built
environment. Virtually all existing buildings are connected to the
gas network. Natural gas is used mainly for space heating and for
supply of hot water.
The built environment comprises the housing sector and the
so-called utility sector, i.e. the sectors of public and commercial
buildings. This book focuses mainly on pubic and commercial
buildings, only occasionally mentioning housing. The utility sector
comprises all buildings used and exploited on a commercial basis:

offices, shops, hotels, hospitals, schools, recreational buildings


and buildings in the care sector. Industrial processes and the
construction industry are not included in this book.

2.1.1 Public and commercial buildings


The public and commercial building sectors are very heterogeneous. In view of their total energy use, offices, healthcare
and the retail trade are the primary subsectors. Simply based on
heat demand, healthcare, hotels and catering are the leading
industries. The total demand for heat in the public and commercial sectors in the Netherlands will decrease slightly in the coming
years to an estimated 180 PJ in 2020.
The demand for heat in the housing and commercial sectors is
dropping gradually. The bulk of the heat demand is for space

19

Gas Heat Pumps

heating. Only in care homes, swimming pools and specific


institutions the heat demand for heating water is predominant.
In principle there is no difference between the technology used in
the commercial and housing sectors; however the capacities are
considerably different.

21%
34%

21%
24%

Households
Utility buildings
Industry
Electricity production

Figure 1 Distribution of natural gas consumption over the various


sectors of the economy (figures 2006; 100% = 45 billion m3).
Source: CE Delft/ECN 2007

The cooling requirement is just the opposite, showing a gradual


increase in the importance of cooling in the total energy demand
in the sector. This trend is expected to continue in the coming
years and energy demand for cooling will exceed demand for
heating. The share in the energy demand for cooling is estimated
to increase from nearly 10% in 2009 (approx. 19 PJ) to 30% in
2020 (approx. 54 PJ). Offices, the care sector and the retail trade
mainly account for the increase in the demand for cooling.

Existing public and commercial buildings


20%
39%
11%
10%
7%

7%

Offices
Shops
Hotel and catering industry
Hospitals

8%

Education

The Netherlands, with its excellent gas infrastructure, its own


gas reserves and sophisticated heating industry, can meet the
built environments demand for space heating with efficient and
relatively clean means. The same applies to public and commercial
buildings. For many years the Netherlands held a leading position
in efficient heating technology. The drawback of this position is
now becoming apparent in existing buildings: the sector has not

Care
Other

Figure 2 Distribution of heat demand in the public and commercial sectors (180 PJ in 2020) by subsector. Source: Ecofys

Accommodation
Meeting
Swimming pool/sauna
Sport facilities
Industrial space

14%

Hotels

26%
14%
14%

12%
20%

Catering industry

Offices

Shops

Shops

Care

Hotel and catering industry


Hospitals
Education
Care

Figure 3 Distribution of the demand for cooling in the public and


commercial sectors (of 54 PJ in 2020) by subsector.
Source: Ecofys

20

1991-2006

Hospitals

Laag met
1951-1990

Education

Before 1950

Offices
0%

20%

40%

60%

80%

Figure 4 Development of construction volumes in the public and


commercial sectors over time.

Chapter 2 | Gas heat pumps in the built environment

really warmed to system changes. The transition from existing


technology to sustainable heat sources (with solar thermal collectors and heat pumps, for instance) is progressing slowly. Energy
performance standards, as imposed by the Energy Performance
Building Directive (EPBD, see section 2.5.3), can to some extent
accelerate the transition to a more sustainable technology. The
market will ultimately determine which technologies are most
successful.
Market segment: utility

Number of buildings

Comments

Offices

60,000

81% for leasing

Education

13,700

Hospitals

128

Nursing and care

1,300

Shops

144,000

Industrial spaces

101,000

Indoor swimming pools / combi


swimming pools

490

Hotels/conference centres

2,400

Restaurants

9,585

Indoor sports facilities

2,160

decrease. In the long term green gas can gradually take over the
role of natural gas in the building sector.

2.1.2 Development of public and commercial building in



the Netherlands
From a quality point of view, the structure of the commercial
sector was entirely different in the mid-twentieth century as
compared to today (see figure 4). The care sector, the leisure and
accommodation industry and the office building sector still had a
long way to go. The 1950s through the 1970s are considered to
be the boom construction period in the commercial sector.

2.1.3 Development of heating in public and commercial



buildings
79% for leasing

36% managed by
local councils

46% managed by
local councils

Table 1 Number of buildings in the public and commercial sectors in


the Netherlands, also see chapter 4. Source: Ecofys 2007

New public and commercial buildings


Owing to high supply reliability, good availability in the long
term and an intricate infrastructure, natural gas is an interesting
fuel for newly constructed buildings as well, but then preferably
in combination with innovative technology, such as heat
pumps or combined heat and power (CHP). As a result of the
required energy performance for new building projects, heat
pumps are now among the standard options. Depending on the
location, type and purpose of the building, these can be ground
source (geothermal) heat pumps or air source (ambient air) heat
pumps.
The built environment is a sector which at the end of the transition period can operate entirely on renewable energy without
economic loss. By increasing the efficiency of the current gas
technology, the use of energy for heating purposes will gradually

The power supply in the public and commercial sectors in the


Netherlands was clearly influenced by the discovery of natural
gas in the 1950s. Until the advent of natural gas the sector was
dependent on coal and to a lesser degree on town gas and fuel
oil. Utility buildings were mainly medium-sized industrial buildings
in urban surroundings with central heating systems. Cooling was
unheard of, with the odd exception.
Soon after the discovery of a large gas reserve near the town
of Slochteren, the Dutch government decided to construct a
complete infrastructure for natural gas. The N.V. Nederlandse
Gasunie, established after the discovery of gas in Slochteren, was
the driving force behind these large-scale developments. Natural
gas became available in every street and in every industrial estate.
In the 1960s coal, fuel oil and town gas were quickly phased out
in favour of natural gas. Gas-fired heating installations soon
became the standard in homes and commercial buildings. Most
installations were based on one large boiler situated in a central
boiler room. The efficiency of those large central-heating boilers
was no more than 60% to 70%. Premix burners (in which gas and
air are mixed by force before entering the burner) did not exist yet.
Until the end of the 1980s, the standard for gas-fired centralheating boilers was a standing cast-iron boiler with an additional
indirectly fired boiler or a geyser for the hot water supply. At the
end of the 1970s the commercial department of Gasunie (now
GasTerra B.V.) in conjunction with the Dutch heating industry
took the initiative to develop a new generation of boilers.

21

Gas Heat Pumps

The result was a condensing high-efficiency boiler, which was


introduced onto the market in the early 1990s. In the years that
followed, this HE boiler caused radical changes on the market
for central-heating installations. The standing boilers were first
discontinued in housing. Later on, wall-hung HE boilers also won
ground in the commercial sector, at the cost of conventional
boilers. The largest wall-hung HE gas boilers nowadays can have
a capacity of up to 100 kW. Larger capacities can be realised
simply by connecting several boilers in cascade and fitting them
with modern regulating electronics.

2.1.4 Development of cooling in public and commercial



building
Until the 1990s comfort cooling was virtually unheard of in the
Netherlands. Apart from some large commercial buildings which
were cooled by means of cooling towers or dry coolers, comfort
cooling was never really considered a plausible option in the
commercial sector.

Figure 5 Example of a standing HE boiler.


Source: Anita Pantius

The development of mechanical compression technology in


America and Japan laid the foundation for todays worldwide
air conditioning industry. The technology reached a fairly mature
stage during the 1990s and the American and Japanese
suppliers introduced their devices onto the global market. Growing
prosperity created a market for comfort cooling particularly
in southern European countries. In recent years the demand
for climate control systems in public and commercial buildings
has accelerated in North West Europe as well (including the
Netherlands).
In the 1990s, medium-sized and large commercial buildings were
cooled mainly by means of cold water systems. In cold seasons
heating was provided by ordinary boiler installations. However,
induced by supply mainly from Japan, direct-expansion systems,
still with a central-heating boiler to meet demand for heat, soon
started to gain in market share.
Remarkably, it was some time before heating installers were
involved in this market. Instead, refrigeration technicians experienced in technical cooling equipment and refrigerating plants
also installed comfort cooling. Comfort cooling and heating
were two separate disciplines in the Netherlands for many years.

22

Figure 6 Three wall-hung HE boilers connected in cascade.


Source: Anita Pantius

Chapter 2 | Gas heat pumps in the built environment

Things are starting to change, however. For a few years now the
air conditioning industry has generally produced heat pumps for
comfort cooling. These installations have dual functions: cooling
and heating. They can also be installed in addition to central
heating boilers and their related distribution systems.
Meanwhile, the commercial sector in the Netherlands is gaining
experience in large and small gas-fired absorption heat pumps.
Today (2010), gas engine heat pumps are still largely unknown in
the Netherlands, contrary to Japan and Italy, for instance, where
these systems are already used on a large-scale basis.

2.2 How heat pumps work


For a clear understanding of the further contents of this chapter,
this section provides a brief description of the operation and main
technical aspects of gas heat pumps. Chapters 3, 4 and 5 contain
a more expansive and detailed explanation of the technology.

2.2.1 Operating principle


In principle, heat pumps work like refrigerators. They transport
heat from one place to another and transform that heat from
useless temperature levels into effective temperature levels.
Refrigerators are fitted with a compressor which transports heat
out from the insulated casing. Heat pumps are also fitted with
a compressor but then to transport heat from outside in. The
heat is then delivered at the desired temperature level inside the
insulated building shell.

Figure 7 Example of a cooling tower for use in public and commercial



buildings. Source: GEA Polacel

Heat pumps conduct heat drawn from their surroundings along


a liquid that evaporates at low temperatures. While evaporating,
the liquid absorbs heat. The heat pump subsequently compresses the vapour, increasing the temperature and the pressure. The
liquid is then conducted along a condenser where it re-condenses
and releases the previously absorbed heat. A distribution system
(floor heating, for example) is usually linked to the condenser to
distribute the heat throughout the building.

Figure 8 Control panel of a standard universal cascade regulator.



Source: ltho

23

Gas Heat Pumps

The available variants of gas heat pumps and electrical heat


pumps are shown in figure 12. The specification of the type of
heat pump first states the medium of the source and then the
medium of the distribution system.

Pa
Total gas consumption
Heat losses (25%)

Compressor

Absorber
Heat source

Solvent cycle

Generator

Heating
system in

Useful heat (50%)

Pv

Heat
supply

(25%)

Vapour

Pc

(75%)

Liquid

Condenser

Evaporator
Expansion valve
Low pressure,
low temperature

High pressure,
high temperature

Heating
system return

Figure 9 Diagram of the operation of a gas absorption heat pump.


Source: TNO

2.2.2 Gas engine heat pumps


Engine-driven heat pumps for the building sectors were initially
equipped with a ground source and a distribution system with
water. They were relatively expensive and had regular teething
problems. The breakthrough came with the introduction of
the direct expansion heat pump. This device, with an air
source and heat discharge into the air (the so-called air/air
heat pump) became popular in no time. Air/air heat pumps,
used as a heater, draw heat from the ambient air. This heat
is transferred inside in an indoor unit (the so-called direct
expansion unit or DX unit) with a heat exchanger, a ventilator
and a control. The same installation can also be used in
reverse mode as an air conditioner. This only requires a reversing
damper. The investment costs are relatively low.
Initially, air/air heat pumps were applied only in smaller installations
and were electrically driven. When capacities increased and the
so-called VRF systems were introduced, they also became available
in gas engine driven models. VRF stands for Variable Refrigerant
Flow which means that the amount of refrigerant (and therefore
the capacity) can vary within the system. VRF systems comprise
one or more outdoor units and several indoor units. The indoor
units are fitted with an electronic expansion valve, enabling the
capacity of each unit to be regulated separately. VRF systems can

Pa
Mechanical energy
Heating
system in

Compressor
Heat source

Pv

Evaporator

Condenser

Heat
supply

Pc

Vapour
Liquid

Expansion valve
Low pressure,
low temperature

High pressure,
high temperature

Heating
system return

Figure 10 Diagram of the operation of a gas engine heat pump.


24

Source: TNO

Figure 11 Project with Sanyo gas engine heat pumps in Raalte.



Source: ICE

Chapter 2 | Gas heat pumps in the built environment

heat and cool; they combine high comfort levels with relatively low
energy consumption.
In theory, air/air heat pumps do not achieve the thermal efficiency
that water/water or ground/water heat pumps can. In practice,
however, there is often little difference in efficiency and the air/air
alternative generally is significantly less expensive than the other
alternatives. Furthermore, some existing commercial buildings do
not have enough space to construct a ground source. Gas-driven
air/air heat pumps are frequently based on standard Japanesemade VRF systems, for which an enormous variety of inner parts
are available, therefore providing extensive design freedom. In
addition, the air/air heat pumps can be produced as a three-pipe
system, which enables them to cool and heat within one building
at the same time. This can be an efficient solution in distinctly
north-south facing buildings.

Air/water
Air/water heat pumps are a variant of air/air heat pumps.
This system is created by linking a gas engine-driven VRF to a
hydro module or by fitting a heat pump with a water-cooled
condenser.

Heating
Central-heating boilers

Electric heat pump

Condensing

Air

Conventional

Air

Air

Water

Water

Ground

Water

Water

Gas heat pumps

Gas engine heat pump

Air

Air

Water
Air

Gas absorption heat pump


Water
Water

Ground

Water

Figure 12 Overview of energy converters for heating buildings.


Source: BDH

The hydro module distributes heat to a water-bearing system.


This creates an air source heat pump installation with a waterbearing distribution system that can cool as well as heat. Some
designs can power a hydro module and a number of DX indoor
units at the same time. These installations can, for example,
supply heat or cold to a combined system with concrete core
activation and air conditioning (for precision control per room).
The cooling/heating ratio is wholly variable in this configuration
(figure 11).

Water/water
Gas engine heat pumps in water/water models are a recent
development. Expectations are that this configuration can achieve
high efficiencies. In the best possible situation, when all energy
flows can be used at both high and low temperatures, an
efficiency of more than 200% is feasible.
Figure 13 Air/air gas engine heat pump with hydro module and a
number of DX indoor units.

25

Gas Heat Pumps

Figure 14 Gas engine heat pumps on the roof of cinema CineMagnus


in Schagen (section 7.1). Source: ICE

Figure 16 Hydro module for use with a gas engine heat pump.

Source: Gasengineering

Figure 15 Gas engine heat pumps at the Natuurcentrum on the isle


of Ameland, the Netherlands (section 7.8). Source: BDH

Figure 17 Outdoor unit of gas engine heat pump. Source: ICE

26

Chapter 2 | Gas heat pumps in the built environment

2.2.3 Gas absorption heat pumps


Gas absorption heat pumps are available in both air/water
and water/water models. Specific to the air/water design is its
easy installation, relatively light weight and low maintenance
requirement. Gas absorption heat pumps are particularly suitable
for sustainable and efficient heating; they can also be used to
provide cooling if necessary. Gas engine heat pumps are preferable
when cooling is the main requirement because of their higher
efficiency when cooling.

Water/water
Water/water gas absorption heat pumps can be applied in
a wide range of configurations. In principle, heat and cold
storage applies when a ground source and a water-bearing
distribution system are used. The ground source can be 40%
smaller on average (and therefore less expensive) than for an
electric heat pump.
Water/water gas absorption pumps are also suitable for
situations in which heating and cooling are required over longer
periods of time. The heat required for heating is then pumped
off where cooling occurs. The ratio between heating and
cooling capacity is approximately 2:1. Lengthy simultaneous
cooling and heating occurs in swimming pools, for example.
Other efficient combinations are also feasible. For instance,
excess heat released in industrial processes can be used in
winter for space heating.

2.2.4 Reliability
In Japan approximately 650,000 gas engine heat pumps have
been installed in the commercial sector. About 45,000 gas
absorption heat pumps have been installed in Europe. These
figures show that the reliability of the technique has been
proven. Furthermore, the Netherlands has a very stable and
reliable gas network, providing very constant initial pressure and
consistent gas quality. In general, optimum and reliable functioning of any energy system in the public and commercial sectors
depends highly on the right choice of the distribution system (or
correct matching with the existing distribution systems). This is
no different for gas heat pumps.

Figure 18 Example of an absorption heat pump. Source: BDH

Figure 19 Air/water gas absorption heat pump.

Figure 20 Water/water gas absorption heat pump.

27

Gas Heat Pumps

2.3 Environmental impacts of gas heat pumps


Heat pumps take heat from the environment: ground, air, water
or waste heat. The heat pump raises this sustainable heat to a
serviceable temperature level. This requires additional energy,
either electricity or natural gas.

Defrost valve

Gas heat pumps versus electric heat pumps


Electricity is derived from various energy sources in the
Netherlands. Dutch power stations use coal or natural gas.
Coal power stations emit considerably more CO2 per kWh
than gas power stations. A considerable portion of the total
electricity consumption (19% in 2007) is imported from abroad,
particularly from Germany and France. The German import
is mainly produced from lignite; the French import is mainly
nuclear-generated.
The Netherlands also generates sustainable power by means of
solar and wind energy, hydropower, biomass co-firing (in coalfired power stations) and gasification and fermentation of biomass. The efficiency of central generation in the Netherlands
amounts to 42% of lower heating value including transport losses.

28

Strong
solution

Refrigerant
(vapour)

Refrigerant
(liquid)

Absorber

Condenser
Cold
water

Figure 21 Operating diagram of an absorption pump (see chapter 3).


Source: Techneco

Gas network per thousand inhabitants


in the 27 EU-countries
9 km
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
0
Sw
ed
Fin en
lan
Ire d
Da land
nm
ar
Fra k
nc
Un
ite Au e
d K str
ing ia
d
G om
Lu erm
xe an
mb y
Th B ourg
e N elg
eth ium
erl
an
d
Gr s
e
Po ece
rtu
ga
Sp l
ain
Ita
Ma ly
lta
Cy *
pr
Slo us*
ve
n
Es ia
to
Ro nia
ma
nia
La
Ge tvia
rm
Lit any
hu
an
Po ia
la
Cz Slo nd
ec v
h R ak
ep ia
u
Hu blic
ng
Bu ary
lga
ria
*
EU
27

Another major benefit of gas heat pumps is their primary energy


saving. Gas heat pumps not only reduce CO2 emissions but also
considerably reduce the emission of particulate matter and NOx.
Compared to the average emission of particulate matter through
central generation in the Netherlands, natural gas installations
have very low emissions. This is also true for gas heat pumps.
Gas absorption heat pumps do not emit NOx; however gas engine
heat pumps do. These emissions remain well within the emission
requirements, and manufacturers are striving to further reduce
emissions.

Weak
solution

Tube-in-pipe

Most heat pumps run on electricity, but especially in the


Netherlands the choice for an electrical appliance is not always
logical. The Netherlands has the most intricate gas network
of all European countries and its capacity rarely presents an
obstacle. Even large capacity gas heat pumps can be connected to the existing gas network with no further measures to
be taken. In many instances, however, electric heat pumps
require a costly reinforcement of the electricity grid or of the
connection.

Inverter valve

Absorber/pre-absorber

Evaporator

* not available

Figure 22 The Netherlands has the most intricate gas network of all
European countries. Source: EnergieNed

Chapter 2 | Gas heat pumps in the built environment

This produces an average CO2 emission of 0.574 kg/kWh, which


is relatively high as a result of the large share of coal-firing in the
Netherlands.
The Coefficient of Performance (COP) and Primary Energy Ratio
(PER) performance concepts are explained in more detail in
sections 3.1 and 4.1. In short, the COP of an electric heat pump
multiplied by the efficiency of the central generation equals the
efficiency based on primary energy ratio (PER).

Calculation example: CO2 emissions of heat pumps

The energy saving and emission reduction of a gas heat pump as


compared to an electric version can be approached as follows:
Electric heat pump
1 MW thermal capacity requires an electric heat pump (COP 3.5)
with an installed capacity of 0.286 MWe.
Assuming 1,300 full load hours per year, 1 MW thermal capacity
requires 1300 x 0.286 = 372 MWh electric energy. This equals 213
tons of CO2.

An electric heat pump with a COP of 3.5, given the 42% central
generation efficiency therefore equals a PER of 3.5 x 0.42 = 1.47.
A properly installed gas heat pump has a similar and sometimes
even considerably higher PER.

Gas heat pump


1 MW thermal capacity requires a gas heat pump (PER 1.4) with
an installed gas capacity of 0.714 MW. Assuming 1,300 full load
hours per year, 1 MW thermal consumes 1300 x 0.714 = 928 MWh
of gas. This equals 95,028 m natural gas and 169 tons of CO2.

The efficiency of central generation in the Netherlands will


gradually increase in the years to come. However, technological
developments will help increase the efficiency of gas heat pumps
at approximately the same pace. Expectations are therefore that
gas heat pumps will retain their emission advantage as compared
to electric heat pumps (see box text).

CO2-reduction
The gas heat pump produces a CO2 reduction
of (213 169) 213 = 21%

Gas heat pumps versus HE boilers


The efficiency of gas heat pumps exceeds the current standard
for heating, i.e. HE boilers. The Netherlands adheres to a heating
ratio of 107% (HR-107) as the reference for heating. The PER of
an HE boiler with an efficiency of 107% of lower calorific value
can be set to 1.0. So when a gas heat pump achieves a PER of 1.4
or higher, it generates substantial primary energy savings.

2.4 The potential for gas heat pumps


The public and commercial sectors comprises office buildings,
hospitals, care homes, nursing homes and industrial buildings.
Due to tightened construction legislation and improved construction quality in this sectors, heating has generally become secondary to cooling.
Gas heat pumps are appealing for both newly built and existing
constructions. HE gas boilers were the standard for heating in
the Netherlands for many years, but this technology has largely
matured. With heat pump technology new steps can be taken to
improve efficiency.

Figure 23 Swimming pool heated by means of a gas heat pump


(section 7.6). Source: Techneco

29

Gas Heat Pumps

In the degree day method (figure 25) the degree days are divided
by daily average outdoor temperatures. Clearly, the daily average temperature during the greater part of the year is 2 C or
more. Heat pumps are very functional at higher daily average
temperatures.

2.4.1 New buildings


There is a lot of potential for gas heat pumps in newly constructed buildings, without the risk of a technology lock-in. In other
words, gas heat pumps do not exclude or hamper future sustainable energy options.
In the near future, new buildings in the Netherlands will
mainly comprise smaller offices or buildings for the care sector
and the leisure and accommodation industry. The boom in the
construction of large offices (5,000 m2 and more) has ceased
and is not expected to resume in the coming years. The construction of smaller offices (up to 5,000 m) is more closely
related to developments in small and medium-sized businesses
and is developing fairly steadily. However, this segment suffers a
surplus as well (15% to 18% according to the sector). New
construction is subject to favourable legislation with respect

Heat pump capacity

Heat demand

Heat pump
reserve capacity

Equilibrium

Precise figures on new-construction projects are hard to come by,


but it is clear that the large amount of vacant buildings currently
on the market will have a negative impact on the amount of new
constructions in the coming years. According to the sector, the
new-build market for offices, industrial space and retail buildings
will stabilise during the coming years to half that of the boom
years 2006 2009 or slightly higher.
The annual square metrage of new offices in mid 2011 is expected
to arrive at 450,000 m2. With the limited number of large office
projects it is most likely that this will continue for some time
to come. Projects for the retail sector will come to just under
400,000 m2 in 2011. The total market for industrial space
(including offices and retail) is estimated at 2.5 million m2.

fpref
0.00

0.00

0.05

0.15

0.10

0.29

0.15

0.44

0.20

0.59

0.30

0.88

0.40

0.91

0.50

0.92

0.60

0.94

0.70

0.95

0.80

0.97

0.90

0.98

-10

250

25

200

20

150

15

100

10

50

Number of days

Central-heating boiler
Coldest day of the year

Potential

Number of degree days

Heat pump

to sustainable energy solutions. Consequently, there is already


a considerable penetration of electric heat pumps (often with
ground source). Gas heat pumps can be used in housing projects
without reservation. Their best prospects lie in new buildings
with a maximum installation volume of approximately 800 kW
to 1,000 kW heating capacity and 700 kW to 900 kW cooling
capacity.

0
-5

10

15

20

Hours

Figure 24 Load/duration curve of a building with a dual system installation (heat pump and central-heating boiler). Source: TNO

30

Figure 25 Degree days in the Netherlands. Source: BDH

Degree days
Number
of days

Chapter 2 | Gas heat pumps in the built environment

The estimated heating capacity for 450,000 m2 of newly built


offices (20 W/m2) comes to approximately 9 MW. For cooling,
4.5 MW cooling capacity is required (10 W/m2). Cooling is leading
in the retail sector due to the amount of heat that is released by
lighting for instance.
It is difficult to give any indication of for newly planned hospitals.
Decision-making around new large blocks of buildings greatly
influences when they will be built. Hospital wards are perfect
for the installation of gas heat pumps; larger departments and
central spaces are generally heated or cooled by means of air
conditioning.
Due to their construction method and volume, care homes are
perfectly suitable for installations based on gas heat pumps. The
market for new care homes and nursing homes is expected to
remain relatively stable. Considering the 40-year technical life
span of buildings, one can expect an annual new-construction
volume of 150 to 170 projects of an average 7,500 to 10,000 m2
per project, just for replacing obsolete buildings. Cooling will play
a major role in these new buildings.

2.4.2 Existing buildings


The pool of existing commercial buildings in the Netherlands is
many times that of the annual new-construction volume. The
sector comprises 45,000 to 55,000 buildings with a total gross
floor area of approximately 40 million m2, a gas consumption
of roughly 560 million m3/year and an electricity consumption
in the region of 4.6 million MWh/year. The sectors total primary energy consumption is 1.8 billion m3 natural gas equivalent
per year. The use of primary energy for heating amounts to
201 PJ (CBS Statistics Netherlands, 2008). Gas-driven heat
pumps are a good and feasible option for an estimated 20%
to 25% of the existing installations. This means that an
approximate heat demand of 65 PJ could be met by gas heat
pumps. The use of gas heat pumps results in substantial
energy savings and relieves the electricity grid. Furthermore,
there is no question of technology lock-in. One can therefore conclude that there is tremendous potential for the use
of gas heat pumps in the public and commercial sectors in
the Netherlands.

Efficiency improvement in the base load


TNO Bouw en Ondergrond (TNO Built Environment and Geosciences)
has calculated that, based on the Dutch load/duration curve, the
best option in many instances is a dual system installation with
a gas heat pump and a central-heating boiler, see figure 24. The
relatively expensive gas heat pump is designed at approximately
30% of the maximum heating capacity in kW. With this 30% (the
so-called -factor) the installation can meet 88% (fpref) of the annual
demand for heat.
The remaining 12% of the off-peak and peak demand in this
situation is met by an HE-107 gas boiler. This apparatus can produce
hot water.
This combination can be applied in new and existing installations.
Savings of several dozens of percentages have already been realised
in existing dual system installations.

In existing buildings, gas heat pumps, as an energy-saving


measure, must compete with other energy-saving options or
they are used as an alternative for existing technologies to
generate heat or cold. Figures 27 to 31 reflect the degrees of
penetration of various insulation measures and generation
systems for existing buildings.
As a rule, it is best to completely replace the existing generating
systems in older installations (10 to 15 years old). With few
exceptions, newer systems (under 10 years old) are suitable for
optimising base loads by means of gas heat pumps, with hardly
any alterations to the existing installation.
As a precondition for using gas heat pumps in existing
installations, the distribution temperatures of the heat pump
must be compatible with the design temperatures of the
distribution system. Because the heat pumps efficiency is
roughly inversely proportional to the difference in temperature
between the source and the transfer side, the difference in
temperature may not be too great. Therefore, supply temperatures of over 55 C are considered to be problematic for heat
pump applications.

31

Gas Heat Pumps

Figure 26 Gas absorption heat pumps in a dual system configuration with existing central-heating boilers in care home Pelsterhof in Groningen.

32

Source: BDH

Chapter 2 | Gas heat pumps in the built environment

100
90
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0

40%
35%
30%
25%
20%

Offices

15%

HE boiler

10%

Shops
Improved Efficiency
boiler

Hospitals

Conventional
boiler

Care

Newly installed HE

Electrical
heat pump

CHP

5%
0%
Offices

Shops

Roof insulation

Hospitals

Wall insulation

Surface insulation

Care
Glass insulation

Figure 30 Penetration of current generating systems by segment.

Figure 27 Penetration of energy-saving measures per sector.

100
90
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0

40%
35%
30%
25%
20%

HE boiler

15%
Offices

10%

Improved
Efficiency boiler
Shops

Conventional
boiler

Hospitals

Newly installed
HE

Electrical heat
pump

CHP

Care

5%
0%
Roof insulation
Offices

Shops

Wall insulation
Hospitals

Surface insulation

Glass insulation

Care

Figure 28 Penetration of energy-saving measures per measure.

Figure 31 Penetration of current generating systems by technology.


Source: Agentschap NL (figures 27 through 31)

2.4.3 Feasible potential


Care

19%

Hospitals

Shops

Offices

60%

53%

65%

From a technical point of view, of the total estimated heat


demand for the year 2020 (180 PJ) and the total estimated
cooling demand (54 PJ) altogether 216 PJ can be covered by
sustainable heating and cooling technology, including heat
pumps. As suppliers of sustainable systems can only handle
limited growth, this technical potential will not be fully realised.
The maximum feasible potential is 110 PJ heat and cold, of
which existing buildings account for 38 PJ and new buildings and
large-scale renovations account for 72 PJ.

Figure 29 Percentage of existing commercial buildings with cooling.

33

Gas Heat Pumps

Possible Uses

Temperature in C

Surface and wall heating

30 - 45

Air heating (ventilation)

30 - 50

Radiators (Low Temperature Heating)

45 - 55

Domestic hot water

70

Swimming pool water

30 - 45

Table 2 Popular distribution systems and related water temperatures.


Source: TNO
Building function

Full load hours hr/yr

Care homes

1,300 1,900

Hospitals

1,500 2,000

Offices

900 1,600

Schools

800 1,300

Shops

No data available

Other

1,000 2,000

Table 3 Full load hours per year for the various building functions.
Source: TNO

2.4.4 Small collective systems


Large-scale heat distribution networks do not feature largely
in most future scenarios due to substantial transport losses
in heat networks and high investments involved in their construction. However, small-scale collective systems at project level

can be interesting from an energy point of view. These systems


are always structured for a specific building volume and are
inextricably linked to the building. The scale of the systems
is restricted to contiguous buildings so as to strongly reduce
transport losses and investments in the infrastructure. A total
of 250,000 to 300,000 housing units in the Netherlands are
connected to collective systems. Most date back to the 1960s,
1970s and 1980s. These collective systems are particularly
suitable for the use of gas heat pumps, in which case it is
advisable to also insulate the buildings insofar as is practically
and economically feasible. In most cases heat pumps can be
combined with the existing collective distribution system. As
described previously in this chapter, heat pumps that produce
30% of the maximum required heat capacity are able to cover
approximately 88% of the total heat demand. A relatively
inexpensive HE boiler is then included in the installation to
cover peak demand.
By incorporating heat pumps into collective systems, new options
for sustainable energy generation can in the future be centralised. In apartments with individual boilers the new technology
must be installed in each individual dwelling, which entails
considerably higher costs.

250

Final thermal demand in PJ

200

150

100

50

Cold
Heat

0
Total demand 2020

Figure 32 Collective systems in new housing. Source: BDH

34

Technical potential

Max. achievable
potential 2008 - 2020

Figure 33 Feasible potential of sustainable heat and cold in the


public and commercial sectors. Source: Ecofys

Chapter 2 | Gas heat pumps in the built environment

2.5 Gas heat pumps and legislation


This section addresses examples of legislation that suppliers of
gas heat pumps must take into account: the European CE label
and the national gas heat pump label. The energy performance
standard for buildings and the impact of gas heat pumps on this
performance is also discussed.

2.5.1 CE mark
All gas heat pumps commercially available on the Dutch market
have a European CE label. This CE label is not a quality label but
indicates that a product meets current European rules and
regulations with respect to safety, health and the environment.
CE labels are designated by the manufacturers. The relevant
procedures are based on EU Decision 93/465/EEC.
The CE label is one of a series of measures enabling free movement
of people, goods and services within the European Union.
Furthermore, the CE label indicates a products safety.
Manufacturers and importers use CE labels to indicate that
they have drawn up a declaration of conformity for the relevant
product and that the product meets all applicable European
directives. By doing so, manufacturers and importers assume
liability for the products.
In order to attach a CE label, manufacturers and importers carry
out the necessary measurements and studies themselves, or they
contract these activities out to an institute in the relevant branch
of industry. In a number of cases EC Type Approval applies,
requiring that manufacturers use a government-approved agency,
the so-called notified body. The Dutch notified body for gasbearing equipment is KIWA Gastec Certification in Apeldoorn. The
CE label of a product with EC Type Approval can be recognised
by the four digits after the CE symbol. This code refers to the
agency that assessed the product.

2.5.2 Gas heat pump quality label


The Dutch industry for gas-bearing heating apparatuses realised
early on the value of a quality label for gas appliances. In the
early days of natural gas in the Netherlands it was important
to indicate whether an apparatus was compatible with natural
gas.

Initially, the gas label was related mainly to safety. Only later did
the quality label turn more into a performance (and efficiency)
indicator. Nowadays the safety aspect is no longer an issue
because all gas appliances are required to meet the CE label
criteria.
To qualify for a gas heat pump label, producers must provide all
required information on the device, after which it is tested under
regulated conditions. In practice, air/air models (direct expansion)
of gas engine heat pumps are difficult to evaluate. Therefore,
the procedures for gas heat pump approval are based on an air/
water design.
The gas heat pump approval procedure has been set up and
is executed by the technical committee of the Smart Cooling
Foundation (the branch association for manufacturers and
importers of gas heat pumps) in close cooperation with TNO
Bouw en Ondergrond in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands. Within the
framework of the gas heat pump label, installations in the field
are monitored as well, in order to obtain a solid impression of
their performance in daily practice.

Gas heat pumps in the house-construction sector


There is a huge potential for gas-driven heat pumps in the houseconstruction sector. Gas heat pumps function extremely well in
existing buildings as well. The current infrastructure can generally
be maintained. The disadvantage of electric heat pumps is that
their energy demand is sometimes too high for the existing grid.
In other cases owners of buildings have to apply for a more heavyduty (more expensive) connection. Smaller gas-driven heat pumps
are an excellent replacement for older central-heating boilers, with
a considerably higher efficiency than even the most economical HE
boilers. The replacement market for central-heating boilers in the
Netherlands amounts to approximately 400,000 units per year. In
theory, most of these boilers can be replaced by gas heat pumps
with capacities ranging between 4 kW and 10 kW, provided that
they are roughly similar to most common HE boilers as regards
noise level, dimensions and weight.
No gas heat pumps are presently available on the commercial
market for the house-construction sector. The first complete devices
produced in series are expected to be introduced onto the market
in the coming years.

35

Gas Heat Pumps

2.5.3 Energy Performance of Buildings Directive


In December 2002 the European Union adopted the European
Energy Performance of Buildings Directive. The Netherlands
enforced this directive on December 2006 as the Besluit
Energieprestatie Gebouwen (Energy Performance of Buildings
Decree) or EPBD. Within the framework of this decree the energy label became compulsory for owners and administrators of
commercial buildings as per 1 January 2008. As from that date
owners and administrators of buildings must present an energy
label to their tenants or buyers. This energy label enables tenants
or purchasers to compare the energetic quality of the buildings
with other buildings. Only certified companies are entitled to
draw up energy labels.

A
B
C
D
E
F
G

An energy label is mandatory when selling or letting the following


categories of public or commercial buildings:
Meeting venues
Healthcare buildings
Hotel and catering buildings
Office buildings
Educational buildings
Sports facilities
Shops

The EPBD applies to all buildings sold or let/relet as from 1 January


2008. The energy label is preferably drawn up when a building is
offered for sale or to let. In any case it must be present when a
sale or lease is transacted.

Equivalence
Statement

Heat pump

generation
Q support

Figure 35 Heat pump depicted as a black box. The type of source


and the distribution temperature, among other things,
determine the heat pumps EPC (energy performance
coefficient) factor. Source: TNO

36

Mandatory labelling when selling or letting

Owners and property managers of commercial buildings may


have to deal with two different obligations:
A label obligation when selling or letting (this applies to most
commercial buildings).
A permanent label duty (this applies to large government buildings open to the public).

Figure 34 Energy label. Source: BDH

Source
Transfer

The energetic quality of a building is calculated by means of a


standardised method and expressed via the energy index. The
index is based on the amount of energy needed for normal
space heating, cooling, humidifying, auxiliary energy (for pumps
and ventilators), hot water and lighting. The calculated energy
index stipulates the energy class of the building. The various
energy classes are indicated by means of colours and the
letters A through G, similar to the energy classes of domestic
appliances and cars.

The mandatory energy label does not apply to new buildings. The
owner must present the calculation of the energy performance
coefficient (EPC) as a part of the building application. For owners
or administrators of buildings built after 1 January 1998, a
stamped copy of the EPC calculation suffices up to 10 years after
the date of the building application. This calculation may therefore not be more than 10 years old.

Chapter 2 | Gas heat pumps in the built environment

2.5.4 Gas heat pumps and the EPN


The energy performance standard (EPN) of buildings figures
largely in the construction legislation in the Netherlands. New
buildings must meet EPN criteria. The level of the EPN is constantly
in a state of flux and the methodology is changed regularly in
accordance with latest insights and national and international
directives, thus promoting innovation. The market responds to
the enhanced standard by developing systems that contribute
to energy savings and emission reductions. In due course
these become standard developments and are incorporated in a
revision of the standard.

As long as there are no quality statements for gas heat pumps,


the current fixed values will be continued (Table 4). Gas engine
heat pumps and gas absorption heat pumps have the same
values. A distinction is made between the various sources and
the various design temperatures of the distribution system.
The fixed values contained in the table are a factor in the EPC calculation. The table shows that a buildings EPC can be structurally
reduced by installing a gas heat pump. This has also been proven
in practice. Expectations are that the energy consumption could
drop by as much as 20%, depending on the use.

Calculation methodology
A buildings energy requirement (for such things as heating,
cooling, ventilation, lighting and supply of hot water) is defined
in the EPC on the basis of standard use. Heat pumps are considered to be black boxes. This method provides a calculation result
for the average annual use depending on the type of source
and the distribution temperature, among other things. Primary
energy use and CO2 emissions are calculated on the basis of
this method.

Fixed values
The EPN method attaches fixed values to the energetic performance
of the various installation components. These values are representative for installation components that perform poorly from an
energetic point of view. In a number of cases fixed values have
been linked to existing labels (such as the Gaskeur label for centralheating boilers). These labels are issued for appliances whose
energy performance exceeds the fixed value, as demonstrated by a
regulated measurement. This is called a quality statement.

Gas engine heat pump


Distribution
temperature

Gas absorption heat pump

<35C 35-45 C 45-55 C <35 C

35-45 C 45-55 C

Source
Ground

1.4

1.3

1.2

1.4

1.3

1.2

Ground water

1.35

1.25

1.15

1.35

1.25

1.15

Ambient air

1.3

1.2

1.1

1.3

1.2

1.1

Table 4 Fixed values in the energy performance standardisation for


the annual average generating efficiency of gas-driven heat
pumps. Source: TNO

37

Chapter 3 | The technology of heat pumps

Chapter 3

The technology
of heat pumps
This chapter reviews each individual type of gas heat pump. Some are already on the market
and quickly gaining recognition; others are less well-known and show great promise for
the near future. In addition to the diversity in types, this chapter discusses the differences in
efficiency, temperature levels and range of application, demonstrating the versatility of gas
heat pumps.

3.1 Heat pumps and efficiencies


Natural gas releases heat when it combusts. Some of this heat,
when released at a high temperature, can be converted into work
(rotating the shaft of a gas engine, for example) and some into
low temperature heat. Both kinds of energy can occur in one
heat pump cycle. Heat pumps raise low temperature heat to a
high temperature level. This occurs, for example, in buildings
where heat from the environment is raised to a temperature for
space heating. Another practical example is refrigerators from
which low temperature heat is extracted to keep the contents
cool, whereupon the heat is transferred to the environment. The
heat moves counter to its natural direction, which is only possible
when energy is added in the form of work or heat. All technical
descriptions in this chapter are classified on the basis of these
two principles (engine-driven versus heat-driven).

Figure 1 on the next page illustrates the difference between these


two basic principles. In the engine-driven heat pump (left) the difference in temperature between T1 and T2 is used to generate work
(w), which is then used to transfer heat from T0 to T1. In the heatdriven heat pump (right) the heat (Q2) is transferred from T2 to T1
in order to transfer heat (Q0) concurrently from T0 to T1. This heat
(Q0 + Q2) is subsequently released at temperature level T1.

Coefficient of Performance
The Coefficient of Performance (COP) for heating is a commonly
used quantity to express the efficiency of heat pumps. For enginedriven heat pumps the COP is generally defined as the ratio of
the transferred heat and the supplied work (in figure 1: Q1/w).
For heat-driven heat pumps the COP is the ratio of the transferred
heat and the supplied heat (in Figure 1: Q1/Q2).

39

Gas Heat Pumps

Because of these different definitions the COP of engine-driven


heat pumps cannot be compared directly to the COP of heatdriven heat pumps. By way of illustration: (engine-driven) heat
pumps have a COP for heating of approximately 4, whereas the
COP for heating of absorption heat pumps is approximately 1.5.

Carnot efficiency
The efficiency of heat pumps can also be expressed as a fraction
of the so-called Carnot efficiency. The Carnot cycle represents the
most efficient way in theory to convert heat into work and vice
versa. The efficiency of heat pumps can now be expressed as the
ratio of their use of energy based on the Carnot cycle and their
actual energy consumption. This ratio can be calculated for both
engine-driven heat pumps and heat-driven heat pumps. Carnot
efficiencies are also mutually comparable.

Thermally driven heat pump

Gas engine +
compression heat pump

T2

T2

Q2
Gas
engine

Q1a

T1

Q2

Work, w

Q1

T1

Q1b
Q0
w=

T0

T2 - T1
Q
T2 * 2

Q 1a= Q 2 - w = Q 2 1Q 1b=

T2 - T 1
T2

COPcarnot =

Q0

Q 1 T2 - T 0 T1
=
Q 2 T2 * T1- T0

T1
w
T1 - T0 *

Figure 1 Diagram of the energy flows of engine-driven heat pumps


(left) and heat-driven heat pumps (right). Source: ECN

40

Another method to compare the performances of the two


types of heat pumps is to calculate the efficiencies regressively
to their primary energy use. This is expressed in the Primary
Energy Ratio (PER). For an electric engine-driven heat pump
the COP must be multiplied by the generating efficiency of
electricity (approximately 42% of lower heating value; this
corresponds with the 39% of upper heating value as mentioned
in the Energy Performance Regulation for Buildings). To calculate
the primary energy use of a gas engine heat pump its COP must
be multiplied by the conversion efficiency of the gas engine
(approximately 30% to 45%).
Determining the primary energy use of heat-driven heat pumps
is more complicated. Industrial waste heat and solar heat at low
temperatures can possibly be considered as being free in which
case the primary energy use is theoretically nil. In this instance
the COP (and thus the PER) is generally related to the parasitic
electricity consumption of pumps, ventilators and valves. However,
when the heat from a gas-fired CHP unit is used for sorption
cooling, for example, then primary energy use is involved in the
production of cold, namely in the form of an amount of consumed
gas. This consumption is then reduced by the primary energy
that would have been needed in the Dutch electricity grid to
produce electricity that has now been produced by the CHP.
This is the only way to mutually compare the energy performances of engine-driven heat pumps and heat-driven heat pumps.

Examples of use

Heat
pump

T0

Primary Energy Ratio

A number of standard uses and operating conditions were defined


for comparing the various heat pump concepts by calculating the
COP and the PER for these uses. This is not possible for each type
of heat pump as perhaps no data is available for that specific use
or the heat pump is not suitable for that particular use.
The standard uses and operating conditions are:
A heat pump using a source heat of 10 C and transferring heat
to a 35 C/30 C system.
A heat pump using a source heat of 10 C and transferring heat
to a 50 C/40 C system (assuming a bivalent system).
A chiller with a condenser temperature of 30 C and a 6 C/
12 C distribution system.

Chapter 3 | The technology of heat pumps

3.2 Engine-driven heat pumps with gas engine

Gas

3.2.1 Gas engine-driven compression heat pumps


Gas engine driven heat pumps can comprise a separate gas engine
and a separate heat pump combined, as shown in the diagram
in figure 2.
The engines residual heat is transferred to a secondary heat
transport medium, generally water or a water/glycol mixture. The
engines crankshaft is coupled mechanically to the shaft of the
compression heat pump. The heat pump pumps up low temperature source heat (generally from ground water, surface water,
ambient air or the waste heat flow from a process) to a higher
temperature and transfers it to the secondary heat transport
medium.

Source heat

Heat transport medium


(generally water or water/glycol)

Mechanical

Gas engine

coupling

Engine-driven heat pumps comprise an engine that generates


mechanical energy which drives a heat pump. Various combinations of engine and heat pump are possible, the most obvious
being the Otto engine with internal combustion that drives a
compression heat pump.

Compression
heat pomp

Figure 2 Coupling of a separate gas engine and a separate compression


heat pump.

Gas engines
The gas engines are the same as the engines used for
co-generation (CHP). The engines are based on the four-stroke
principle, whereby the process in each cylinder completes
four steps: the intake stroke, the compression stroke, the
work stroke and the exhaust stroke. The book entitled
Heat and Power in the series The World of Natural Gas
published by GasTerra provides a detailed description of how
gas engines work.

Compression heat pumps


Essentially, compression heat pumps comprise four components:
the compressor, the condenser, the expansion device and
the evaporator (see figure 3). A refrigerant circulating in a
compression heat pump evaporates at low pressure in the
evaporator where it absorbs heat at a low temperature (Q0 in the
figure). The compressor puts the vapour under high pressure.
The required work in this case originates from the gas engine.
The refrigerant condenses at high pressure; the absorbed heat
Q0 plus the work added to the compressor becomes available as
high temperature heat (Q1 in the figure).

High
pressure

Q1

Condenser
Expansion
device

Compressor

Low
pressure

Q0
2

3
Evaporator

Figure 3 Diagram of a compressor heat pump.

41

Gas Heat Pumps

Field of application
Normally gas engines deliver heat at temperatures of up to
approximately 90 C. A small portion of this heat (5% to 10%)
can be increased to higher temperatures (110 C to 120 C) by
utilising the high temperature of flue gases.
The use of heat pumps is determined mainly by the temperature
of the available heat source in combination with the maximum
rise in temperature of 40K to 50K (Kelvin). When, for example,
ground water with a temperature of 10 C is used as the heat
source, the temperature of the produced heat will be at most
60 C. If the heat source is an industrial waste heat flow of
60 C, low pressure steam of 110 C can be produced. For these
high temperature applications special attention must be paid to
selecting the correct refrigerant.
The use of gas engine-driven compression heat pumps is therefore restricted to space heating and some industrial lowtemperature processes.

Efficiencies
The efficiency of a gas engine is divided into mechanical
efficiency and thermal efficiency. The mechanical efficiency is the
ratio between the shaft capacity and the energy flow of supplied
fuel and amounts to 30% to 45%. The thermal efficiency is the
ratio between the thermal capacity and the energy flow of the
supplied fuel and amounts to 45% to 70%.
The COP of the heat pump is determined mainly by the temperature of the heat source and the temperature at which the heat is
to be provided. The maximum COP can be determined by means
of the Carnot efficiency:
Tcondensation [K]

Scale

Electrical efficiency [%]

The capacity of gas engines is the same as that used for CHP.
The scale ranges from a few kilowatts to a few megawatts
mechanical capacity. Heat pumps on the scale of megawatts

Detail

COPcarnot=

Tcondensation - Tevaporation [K]

There is a 5K to 7K difference between the evaporating temperature and the temperature of the heat supply. The difference
between the (lowest) source temperature and the evaporation
temperature is 4K to 6K. The COP is a maximum and therefore
theoretical value. In practice this value is not achieved due to the
efficiency of the expansion valve and the isentropic efficiency of
the compressor (the loss of energy in the compression-expansion
cycle). To calculate the COP of a heat pump one can take an efficiency of 50% to 60% of the Carnot efficiency as a preliminary
indication.

System efficiency

1,000

1,200

1,400

1,600

1,800

2,000

Electrical power in kW

Figure 4 Indicative electrical efficiencies of the gas engine as a function of


the capacity.

42

are usually specially designed for a specific situation. The


heat pump comprises components that are also used for air
conditioning and industrial cooling. The thermal capacity of the
gas engine and the compression heat pump combined amounts
to approximately 15 MW.

The next example shows how the system efficiency of an


industrial gas engine-driven compression heat pump is determined. This system example produces process heat of 90 C.
The heat source is a flow of cooling water that is cooled down
to 40 C. The gas engine has a mechanical efficiency of 35%
and a thermal efficiency of 45%. The engine produces therefore
0.45 kW heat and 0.35 kW work per kilowatt of natural gas.

The work is used in a heat pump with an efficiency of 55%


of Carnot. The condenser temperature is 97 C and the evaporation temperature is 35 C. Per kilowatt of natural gas the heat
pump produces heat of:

Qwp = 0.35 * 0.55 *

273 + 97
= 1.15 kW
97-35

Ambient air

Chapter 3 | The technology of heat pumps

Outdoor
unit

Indoor unit
Room air

Indoor unit

Indoor unit

Room air

Room air

The systems efficiency then comes to (1.15 + 0.45 =) 160%.

Development stage
The gas engine technology for stationary use is fully matured.
The engines offer high efficiency, relatively low emissions, a
long life span and high availability. The technology of compression heat pumps has also reached a mature stage. For higher
capacities (as from approximately 100 kW), heat pumps will be
designed specifically for the situation. Heat pumps for higher
temperatures (over 60 C) are rare, requiring very specialist
engineering.

3.2.2 Gas engine-driven compression heat pumps,



multisplit type
Gas engine-driven heat pumps also function as outdoor units
for the so-called variable refrigerant flow (VRF) or multisplit
units. A split unit is a cooling and heating system in which
the refrigerant ensures the transport of heat or cold to spaces
(see Figure 5). The expansion valve, the evaporator and the
compressor are incorporated in the outdoor unit. The gaseous
refrigerant is transported from the outdoor unit via a pipe system
to the condensers of the indoor units, where it condenses
and delivers space heating. The liquid refrigerant is subsequently transported back to the outdoor unit. This system is
called multisplit because one outdoor unit provides refrigerant
to several indoor units.
Modern, larger split units can be designed as a VRF system in
which the compressor is able to process a varying amount of
refrigerant, so that the capacity of the separate indoor units can
be regulated proportionally.

Figure 5 Multisplit unit in heating operation. Source: ECN

then become the evaporators that cool the surrounding air by


evaporating liquid refrigerant. The heat exchanger in the outdoor
unit becomes the condenser. Consequently, one installation can
heat and cool. The so-called three-pipe versions of a VRF system
are able to cool and heat at the same time.
The compressor of a split unit is generally driven by an electric
motor. However, gas engine-driven outdoor units are also
available on the market. While cooling, the engine heat is
diverted to the ambient air. While heating, the engine heat is
transferred onto the refrigerant and thus made useful.
The gas-driven outdoor unit can also be combined with a liquidliquid heat exchanger, in which the refrigerant heats or cools a
secondary heat transport medium (generally water or a mixture
of water and glycol). This solution applies, for example, when a
boiler and a chiller are replaced by a gas heat pump. Thanks to
the heat exchanger the existing piping and distribution system
does not need to be replaced.
The capacity range of multisplit units is 30 kW to 90 kW for
heating and 20 kW to 70 kW for cooling. The technology of
outdoor units based on gas engine-driven compression heat
pumps is now fully matured. Outdoor units can easily be
connected to larger capacities (up to 1,000 kW), as is described in
section 7.7 and elsewhere.

The operation of the system can be reversed by means of a fourway valve in the piping system of the refrigerant. The indoor units

43

Gas Heat Pumps

3.3 Engine-driven heat pumps with external


combustion
This section addresses a number of alternative heat pump
concepts whose engines function on the basis of the external
combustion principle. These are installations in which one part
generates work via the supplied heat and the other part uses
this work to pump heat to another temperature level. The way
in which the two parts exchange work differs. All concepts are
based on the Stirling cycle. The best known concept is a Stirling
engine that drives a Stirling heat pump, the so-called StirlingStirling heat pump. This concept has a number of alternatives
with mechanical coupling by means of a shared piston (Duplex
Stirling) or the work medium (Vuilleumier cycle). There is one
final alternative in which the Stirling engine and the Stirling heat
pump are linked mechanically by means of sound waves. This is
the thermo-acoustic heat pump.

3.3.1 The Stirling cycle


The main components of a Stirling system are the regenerator,
the hot and cold heat exchanger, the piston, the displacer and
the work medium (generally helium under 30 bar to 200 bar pressure). Figure 6 shows these components for a Stirling engine. The
piston is the component that produces the engines power. The

Regenerator
Displacer

Piston
Tk

Cold heat
exchanger

Qk

Th

Qh

Hot heat
exchanger

Figure 6 Schematic diagram of a Stirling engine. Source: ECN

44

displacer ensures a proper ratio between the pressure and the


speed at which the gas passes through the regenerator. Some
of the engines power is used for this purpose. The regenerator
is situated between the two heat exchangers. The work medium
(gas) exchanges heat with the regenerator material. Heat is transferred from the gas to the regenerator during one part of the
cycle, whilst this heat is returned to the gas during the other part
of the cycle.
A huge surface area is needed for the heat to transfer properly
between the gas and the regenerator material. This is achieved
by using a very porous material with tiny gas openings. Usually
a woven metal gauze with a mesh of approximately 100 micrometres is used. The movements of the piston and the displacer
ensure that the gas completes a cycle. This cycle is shown in
a diagram in figure 8. Four phases can be distinguished in
this cycle.
In the first stage the displacer compresses the gas on the low
temperature side. Normally the temperature of the gas would
rise. However, due to proper thermal contact between gas and
regenerator, the temperature of the gas is determined by the
regenerator and therefore does not increase. That is why heat
is removed by the low temperature heat exchanger. In the next
step, both the displacer and the piston move in the same direction. The volume of the gas does not change but is moved to
the hot side of the regenerator. The gas absorbs the heat from
the regenerator and adopts (nearly) the same temperature as the
regenerator. Subsequently, the gas expands on the heat side by
means of the piston movement. The gas does not cool down
because it adopts the temperature of the regenerator there. The
high temperature heat exchanger supplies the required heat. In
the last stage, the gas is returned to its original position (from
high to low temperature). The gas transfers heat to the regenerator, after which the cycle starts over again. This cycle is carried
out, for example, 50 times per second.
Figure 9 contains a pressure volume (PV) diagram showing the
cycle completed by the gas. It shows that the Stirling cycle is
built up of two isotherms and two isochores (the purple lines).
The maximum efficiency is the Carnot efficiency. In reality these
phases overlap, creating the blue line. The enclosed area is the

Chapter 3 | The technology of heat pumps

amount of work generated by this process. The compression at


low temperature requires less power than the expansion produces
at high temperature.

1 Compression
Qk

This cycle can also be completed in reverse order. The net effect is
that work must be supplied and heat is transferred from a lower
to a higher temperature: this is a heat pump. Coupling the engine
cycle to a heat pump cycle creates an integrated system forming
a heat-driven heat pump, linked by work power. These thermodynamic cycles can be executed in various ways. Three different
models are described below.

Regenerator

Regenerator
Q

Regenerator

Regenerator

Qk
Q

3.3.2 Stirling-Stirling
The first alternative is a Stirling heat pump driven by a Stirling
engine. This kind of system is called a duplex system. Figure 10
(see page 46) contains an example in the form of a heat-driven
chiller. Heat is supplied on the engine side in the high temperature heat exchanger or in a natural gas burner (or other type of
burner) that directly heats this part of the system. The heat is
transported via an ambient temperature heat exchanger. The work
produced by the engine is passed on to the heat pump by means
of a shared piston. In this system, heat is pumped up in the heat
pump from a low temperature level to an ambient temperature.
The system outlined here is just one example of many Stirling
system models. Stirling machines generally have between 500
and 4000 revolutions per minute (8 Hz to 67 Hz). The higher
the number of revolutions, the higher the power density of the
system is.

2 Heating

4 Cooling

3 Expansion

Figure 8 The gas cycle. Source: ECN

Heating

Pressure

Expansion

Cooling
Compression

Figure 7 Woven metal gauze as a regenerator in a Stirling system.


A number of gauzes can be seen to the left; to the right a
microscopic picture of a mesh. Source: ECN

Volume

Figure 9 The thermodynamic Stirling cycle. Source: ECN

45

Gas Heat Pumps

Use
As already stated, high-pressure helium is generally applied in a
Stirling cycle. Other possible work media are hydrogen, air and
nitrogen. This means that, contrary to conventional compression or absorption heat pumps, there are hardly any restrictions
for this duplex system due to the work medium. Heat pumps
based on the Stirling cycle can therefore be used for a wide
range of applications, for both heating and cooling (to cryogenic
temperatures). Just like for the operating temperature there
are no theoretical limitations to the temperature lift of the
heat pumps. However, the performance of the heat pumps
deteriorates the higher the temperature is lifted. In most
instances the temperature of the low temperature side of the
engine is equal to the high temperature of the heat pump, but
that is not a requisite. As regards heat-driven heat pumps, one
should consider that the useful heat becomes available at the
desired temperature level in two places, namely in the engine
and in the heat pump.

Scale
The capacity of Stirling systems (mainly engines) realised to date
is relatively small. Stirling engines with an efficiency of 100 kW
do exist however and larger systems are not inconceivable. The
largest obstacle in scaling up Stirling systems is the relatively low
heat transfer in the heat exchangers. This leads to the choice of
large heat exchangers, which makes the systems rather space-

consuming. Moreover, with larger capacities the mass of the


piston is an issue. Large pistons can cause unwanted vibrations
in the system. By linking several systems together they could
possibly neutralise each other's vibrations.

Efficiencies
The efficiency of Stirling gas heat pumps depends on the temperature levels of the application. Hardly any data is available on
the performance of integrated duplex systems. Efficiencies have
been calculated for the afore-mentioned applications, based on
the following assumptions (taken from literature on the individual components):
Stirling engines convert heat into work with an efficiency of
50% of the maximum Carnot efficiency.
Stirling engines are heated by a gas burner which keeps the
hot side of the engine at a temperature of 650 C.
The burner efficiency after recuperation is 85%. The remaining
15% can still be used for heating purposes.
Stirling chillers have an efficiency of 30% of the maximum
Carnot efficiency.
Based on these assumptions the efficiency of the engine and
the heat pump can be calculated for each temperature level.
The efficiency of the entire system is calculated by dividing
the generated heat/cold by the supply of heat at the engine.
The following table contains the performances of the defined
standard applications.
Application

High temperature
heat exchanger
Regenerator

1.6

Low temperature
heat exchanger

Ground heat to 60/70 C

1.2

Regenerator

Cooling 6/12 C

1.0

Table 1 Calculated efficiencies for Stirling-Stirling heat pumps.

Ambient temperature
heat exchanger

Displacer

Displacer

46

Source: ECN

Development stage

Shared pistonzuiger

Figure 10 Duplex Stirling system. Source: ECN

COPth /PER

Ground heat to 30/40 C

The Stirling cycle has been around since 1816. Despite extensive
research it has not yet enjoyed large-scale commercial success.
However, Stirling engines and Stirling heat pumps are actually
used in niche markets, such as in space travel and cryogenic
chillers. The application of Stirling engines in micro-CHP systems
for dwellings (photo to the right) has improved substantially

Chapter 3 | The technology of heat pumps

over the past few years and is now ready to market. In the
past, effort was put into developing duplex systems for use
in the built environment (Sunpower, Global Cooling), however
as far as we know there are no new activities to report in
this field.

3.3.3 Thermo-acoustic systems


Thermo-acoustic systems use sound waves instead of pistons
and displacers. Sound waves are no more than the periodic displacement of gas combined with compression and expansion.
These fluctuations are so minor as to be barely perceptible in
everyday life, but thermo-acoustic systems use such high sound
levels that their fluctuations can be put to good use. Thermoacoustic systems contain an engine and a heat pump, comparable with the duplex Stirling machine. The acoustic power links
the two components. Thermo-acoustic engines have an acoustic
circuit instead of a displacer. The engine produces acoustic
power, similar to a moving piston. As with the Stirling engine,
some of the power is fed back to the cold side of the regenerator
via a so-called feedback inertance. Unlike traditional Stirling
engines, the thermo-acoustic version has no mechanical
moving parts and is therefore more reliable and less expensive
to produce. Heat is supplied and discharged by applying
heat exchangers to both sides of the regenerator. The heat
exchangers transfer the heat between the heat transport
medium and the oscillating work medium. The work medium is
a gas (helium, argon, nitrogen or air) under a pressure of 5 bar
to 40 bar or even higher.
In order to (acoustically) link the various components of a
thermo-acoustic system, the components must be placed in
a resonator. The resonator functions as a pressure vessel and
determines the operating frequency of the system. This is
comparable to an organ pipe. The longer the housing, the
lower the frequency is. Typical work frequencies for thermoacoustic systems lie somewhere between 40 Hz and 200 Hz.
Figure 14 reflects a system in which a burner-driven thermoacoustic engine is installed in the resonator to the right.
The produced acoustic capacity is used in the heat pump on
the left to pump heat from a low temperature to a high
temperature level.

Figure 11 Micro-CHP test installation. Source: GasTerra

Figure 12 Micro-CHP systems manufactured by Ariston (left) and


Remeha (right), both on the basis of a Stirling engine.

Source: Ariston, Remeha

47

Gas Heat Pumps

Use
High-pressure helium is often used as a work medium in thermoacoustic systems. Consequently, there are hardly any restrictions
for their use. Heat pumps based on this principle can therefore
be used for a wide range of applications, both for heating and

Feedback inertance

Figure 13 Schematic diagram of a thermo-acoustic engine/heat pump.


Source: ECN

Radiator

TA-heat pump

Burner

TA-engine

Ground-source heat exchanger

Figure 14 Diagram of a thermo-acoustic system. Source: GasTerra

48

Scale
The maximum scale of thermo-acoustic systems is determined
mainly by the available space for the heat exchangers. That
space is partly determined by the frequency at which the system
operates; the frequency dictates the length of the system. The
diameter is limited since the system, from an acoustic point of
view, must be one-dimensional. According to model calculations it should be possible to build a system with a capacity of
some hundreds of kilowatts but this would in principle become a
relatively long system. However, the resonator can be folded to
make the system more compact, although that would be at the
expense of the performance as each change in the direction of
sound waves involves losses.

Thermal buffer tube

Gas Volume

for cooling purposes. Figures 15 to 20 provide examples. These


examples are not exclusive to gas-fired systems. Diagrams of the
temperature levels and the power flows are provided alongside
each application.

Efficiencies
The efficiencies of thermo-acoustic systems are dependent,
among other things, on the temperature conditions of the
application. No data is available on commercial uses. Therefore,
the figures must be based on measurement data provided by
laboratories and on expectations as to feasible efficiencies.
The following assumptions have been used:
The engine has an efficiency of 40% of the maximum Carnot
efficiency. Its feasibility has already been demonstrated in
laboratories.
The engine is heated by a gas burner which keeps the heat
side of the engine at a temperature of 650 C.
The efficiency of the burner after recycling amounts to 85%.
The remaining 15% can be used for heating.
The heat pump also has an efficiency of 40% of the maximum Carnot efficiency. This is the same cycle as the engine,
but then in the opposite direction. As there is less difference
in temperature at the heat pump than in the engine, the
heat exchangers play a vital role in minimising temperature
losses.
10% of the efficiency of the engine is lost due to friction and
turbulence of the gas moving in the resonator.

Chapter 3 | The technology of heat pumps

600 C
(Burner)

20 C

20 C
(Ambient temperature)

(Ambient temperature)

Sound wave

Linear engine

Sound wave

Heat pump
Engine

Heat pump

20 C
(Ambient temperature)

-160 C
(Liquid natural gas)

Figure 15 The liquefaction of natural gas.


Acoustic power is generated in an engine by means of a gas-fired
burner. This acoustic energy is then used in a heat pump to liquefy
natural gas. Source: ECN

20 C
(Ambient temperature)

Piezoelectric
element

-40 C
(Freezer)

Figure 17 Cooling on board ships.


A linear engine generates a sound wave. The acoustic energy is used
in a heat pump to produce cooling. Source: ECN

400 C
(Concentrated sunlight)

Sound wave

Sound wave

Electricity

Linear generator
Heat pump

10 C
(Cooling)

Figure 16 Chip cooling.


Here, a piezoelectric element generates the sound wave.
A thermo-acoustic chiller uses the sound to cool.
Source: ECN

Engine

20 C
(Ambient temperature)

Figure 18 Electricity from sunlight.


Concentrated thermal solar energy generates an acoustic wave in an
engine. Alternating current is subsequently generated in a kind of
reversed loudspeaker (linear generator). Source: ECN

49

Gas Heat Pumps

Table 2 contains the calculated performance for the three defined


standard applications.
600 C
(Burner)

Application

Sound wave

Electricity

Linear generator

COPth/PER

Ground heat to 30/40 C

1.5

Ground heat to 60/70 C

1.1

Cooling 6/12 C

0.9

Table 2 Calculated performance for the three defined standard


applications. Source: ECN

Engine

Development stage
150 C
(Process heat)

Figure 19 Combined heat and power (CHP).


A burner generates an acoustic wave via a thermo-acoustic
engine and a linear generator generates the alternating current.
The burners flue gases fulfil the heat demand. Source: ECN

140 C
(Waste heat)

190 C
(Process heat)

Sound wave

Thermo-acoustic systems are still in the early stages of


development for most applications. The technology is not
yet commercially available, with the exception of small-scale
cooling systems driven by linear engines. A large-scale prototype for the liquefying of natural gas has been built in the
United States. This system has been designed to generate 30 kW
acoustic power on the basis of a natural gas-driven burner.
With this system 7 kW cooling capacity was produced at
-140 C in a chiller.
A waste heat-driven heat pump is under development in the
Netherlands. Industrial waste heat with a temperature of over
100 C is used to drive the engine.
Research is also being done into electrically driven systems.
Burner-driven systems are being explored as well. The challenge
is to transfer as much heat as possible from the gas flame into the
thermo-acoustic system.

3.3.4 Vuilleumier
Heat pump
Engine

20 C
(Cooling)

140 C
(Waste heat)

Figure 20 Upgrading of waste heat.


Acoustic energy is generated in an engine by means of waste heat.
The heat is then upgraded to a useful temperature level in a heat
pump by means of the acoustic energy. The sound wave can also be
used to produce cooling. Source: ECN

50

The Vuilleumier cycle comprises a combination of heat engine and


heat pump. Whereas the engine and the heat pump in a duplex
Stirling system are linked by a shared piston, in the Vuilleumier
system they are linked by the work medium. Figure 23 (page 52)
contains a diagram of the system. The regenerators and heat
exchangers are comparable to the duplex Stirling system. The big
difference is that the Vuilleumier system has no piston; it has two
displacers instead. From a production point of view this has its
pros and cons as the dimensions of the piston must meet higher
demands than the displacer. On the other hand, the Vuilleumier
system requires a drive for the displacers. This means that the
system needs a small supply of electricity.

Chapter 3 | The technology of heat pumps

However, configurations have also been devised that operate


without this external drive.
The operating frequency of a Vuilleumier system (8 Hz to 16 Hz)
is generally lower than that of a duplex Stirling system. The
pressure ratios are also much lower. The energy density is thus
lower than that of the duplex Stirling variant. Vuilleumier systems
are therefore particularly suitable for smaller capacities. The
advantage of larger machines is that they are easier to build and
heat exchangers are easier to integrate.

Use
High-pressure helium (80 bar to 130 bar) is often used as a
work medium in Vuilleumier systems. Consequently, there are
hardly any restrictions for their use. Heat pumps based on the
Vuilleumier cycle can therefore be used for a wide range of
applications, both for heating and for cooling purposes.

Figure 21 Thermo-acoustic natural gas liquefier.


Scale
The largest Vuilleumier system built to date has a thermal
capacity of 20 kW. Expectations are that, just as with Stirling
systems, problems will occur at much larger capacities as a
result of low power density and the large moving masses of the
displacers.

Efficiencies
Little data is available on Vuilleumier systems. The University of
Dortmund publishes a COP of 1.7 for heat delivered at 40 C
and a COP of 1.5 for heat delivered at 75 C. One manufacturer
reports COP values of 0.56 and 1.33 for 5.2 kW cooling and
12.2 kW heating respectively. Related to the Carnot efficiency,
efficiencies of 10% to 20% are stated, however it is not clear
whether they are model calculations or performances that have
actually been measured. Although the conditions do not entirely
correspond to the defined standard conditions, based on the

Figure 22 Waste heat-driven engine with heat pump. Source: ECN

Source: Praxair/LANL

51

Gas Heat Pumps

data of the University of Dortmund the Vuilleumier system seems


to achieve performances similar to that of duplex Stirling systems
and thermo-acoustic systems. This is not surprising, considering
their comparable thermodynamic cycles.

Development stage
The Vuilleumier cycle was invented by Rudolph Vuilleumier in
1918. His research was centred particularly on miniature chillers for
cryogenic applications. The principle was considered for development for the built environment in the 1980s. This resulted in a
16 kW (design value) heat pump at the University of Dortmund.
(This project is backed by the Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt DBU
(German Environmental Foundation)). Sanyo developed a system for
the production of hot water (12.2 kW) and cold water (5.2 kW). To
our knowledge, these developments have not been continued.

Displacer

3.4 Thermally driven heat pumps


Thermally driven heat pumps use heat not only as the source for
the heat that is to be upgraded, but also as an energy source
to drive the heat pump process. This distinguishes thermally
driven heat pumps from work-driven heat the pumps. This
section examines thermally driven heat pump systems in more
detail. These heat pumps are based on sorption of a gas or
vapour (the sorbate) onto or into a solid substance or liquid
(the sorbent).

3.4.1 Thermally driven sorption heat pumps


Just like mechanically driven compression heat pumps, thermally
driven sorption heat pumps have a cycle in which the refrigerant
condenses under high pressure and temperatures, and evaporates under low pressure and temperatures.

High temperature
heat exchanger
Regenerator

Displacer

Ambient temperature
heat exchanger
Low temperature
Regenerator heat exchanger

Figure 23 Diagram of a Vuilleumier system. Source: ECN

Figure 24

Prototype of a Vuilleumier heat pump.


Source: University of Dortmund

52

Chapter 3 | The technology of heat pumps

However, sorption heat pumps do not use a mechanical


compressor to increase the pressure. Instead, they use the
binding forces between the sorbent and the sorbate, in combination with heat as a source of energy. Sorption systems
create the required differences in pressure through thermal
compression.
The sorbate (read: refrigerant) evaporates due to the strong
attraction of the sorbent which has a connection to the evaporator. This process occurs spontaneously due to the difference in
pressure between the evaporator and the absorber.

Heat effect in the case of sorption


Heat is released when a sorbate binds to a sorbent. This sorption
heat is similar to heat that is released when vapour condenses,
supplemented by an additional heat effect as a result of the sorbate
binding to the sorbent. The sorption process can be reversed by
raising the temperature of the sorbent with the bonded sorbate,
thus releasing the absorbed sorbate. This is illustrated in figures
25a and 25b.

The difference in pressure gradually drops due to the sorption


of the gas/vapour onto the sorbent. As from a certain degree
of saturation the sorbent must be regenerated. This is done by
raising the temperature of the sorbent with the absorbed
sorbate, whereupon the sorbate is released as vapour. The pressure at which sorbate is released is such that the sorbate can be
condensed at a higher temperature than that of the evaporator.
The sorbent is then regenerated after which it can be reused in
the sorbate sorption process.
The thermodynamic cycle described above is depicted in figure
26. This is a pressure-temperature composition diagram (PTx
diagram; also referred to as isostere diagram and isosteric
chart). This diagram reflects the relation between pressure and
temperature for a sorbent-sorbate combination with a constant
composition (concentration or saturation) of sorbate in or on
the sorbent. The equilibrium position generally depends on how
much sorbate is absorbed in which case the lines reflect the
different sorbate contents. A high concentration of sorbate
(high degree of saturation) brings the relevant isostere line
closer to the boiling line of the pure sorbate.
Thermally driven sorption heat pumps supply or discharge heat
at three temperature levels. At low temperatures, due to the
evaporation of the sorbate, heat is absorbed in the system (by
extracting heat from the surroundings). At high temperatures,
heat is also supplied for the regeneration of the sorbent. At
medium temperatures, heat is discharged from the system at
the condenser and at the absorber.

Figure 25a Illustration of the heat effects in connection with


absorption. Source: ECN

Figure 25b Illustration of the heat effects in connection with


desorption. Source: ECN

53

Gas Heat Pumps

Sorption heat pumps can be used for heating purposes or for


cooling depending on the position of the low temperature and
the medium temperature. In principle, the technology can also be
applied in reverse: cooling in summer and heating in winter. The
position of the equilibrium lines in the PTx diagram determines
the applicable temperature levels and thus the deployment range
of a sorption heat pump.
The efficiency of a sorption heat pump for heating, indicated as
COP, is the ratio of delivered heat at medium temperature and
the amount of supplied heat at high temperature.

COP =

Q absorption + Q condensation
Q regeneration

The COP value is higher than 1.


For cooling applications the efficiency (COPc) is expressed as the
ratio of the extracted heat at low temperature and the amount of
supplied heat at high temperature.
Q evaporation
Q regeneration

Pressure [Pa]

COPc =

Logarithmic
scale

Sorbent + sorbate equilibrium pressures


Heat
discharge

P1

Sorbate boiling line

Increasing saturation

Sorbate displacement
Regeneration

Condensation

Heat
supply

Evaporation
P0
Heat
supply Sorbate displacement

Sorption

Heat
discharge
Low temperature

Medium temperature

High temperature
Temperature [C]

Figure 26 Diagram of the circular process for a sorption heat


pump. Source: ECN

54

The system type as described above, the so-called single-stage


model, is the most popular. The value of the COPc in this design
is usually less than 1. Other variants are also used, depending on
the sorbent and sorbate. Some are discussed below.

3.4.2 Liquid sorption systems


Liquid sorption systems, also referred to as absorption heat
pumps, distinguish themselves from solid sorption systems
(adsorption heat pumps) by using a liquid sorbent, the advantage
being that the liquid can be transported through the system.
Therefore, only the sorbent needs to be heated or cooled
between the loading phase and the unloading phase and not the
entire reactor. The system can also be provided with counterflow
liquid-liquid heat exchangers, simplifying the recovery of much
of the sorbents heat.
Ammonia-water mixtures and lithium bromide-water are the
most popular sorbents for the sorption of liquids. Figure 27
illustrates the absorption cycle of an ammonia-water system.
The left pressure-temperature line reflects the vapour line for
pure ammonia. The two lines to the right reflect the vapour
line for water containing relatively large amounts (left) or
small amounts (right) of ammonia. The more ammonia the
water contains, the closer its line is to the ammonia line.
When the ammonia-water mixture is cooled down to T1, the
pressure drops to below the pressure in the ammonia evaporator and ammonia evaporates, upon which it absorbed by the
ammonia-water mixture until the pressure of the mixture at
T1 is equal to the pressure of the ammonia at T0. The mixture
is subsequently heated to T2 at which its pressure is higher
than the ammonia at T1, which is the temperature of the
condenser. The ammonia then evaporates out of the mixture
until the vapour pressure of the mixture at T2 is equal to the
ammonia vapour pressure at T1. The mixture can then be cooled
down again to T1 to absorb the ammonia. Much of the heat can
be recovered by conducting the mixture counterflow through a
heat exchanger.

3.4.3 Ammonia-water systems


In the ammonia-water absorption process, ammonia is the sorbate (or refrigerant) and water is the sorbent. Water easily absorbs
ammonia (NH3). This releases solution heat at a high enough

Chapter 3 | The technology of heat pumps

temperature to transfer the heat to the heating system. By


heating the ammonia-water solution (with gas, for example) the
ammonia passes into the gas phase at high pressure and can then
condensate. The condensation heat is transferred to a heating
system. The condensed ammonia is conducted via a pressure
reducer to an evaporator. Heat is required to evaporate ammonia
at a low temperature and pressure. This heat is extracted from
the environment (air, ground). The above description is based on
heating, but the same applies for cooling and freezing. In the
latter cases heat is extracted at the evaporator at a lower temperature and pressure. Internal heat exchange is applied in modern
systems (GAX, Generator Absorber heat eXchanger) to increase
the efficiency as compared to the basic process.

Pressure
Condenser K

P1

Q2

Q1.1

Generator

Expansion
valve

Heat
exchanger

Pump

Evaporator V
P0

Absorber A
Q1.0

Q0
T0

T2 Temperature

T1

Temperature lift

Use
The vapour pressure of pure ammonia is approximately 8 bar at
room temperature and 1 bar at -30 C. Ammonia-water systems
are therefore suitable for cooling purposes down to very low
temperatures. They have been used in industrial refrigerating plants
for more than a century now. Single-stage systems enable freezing
down to -50 C. Systems for double-stage ammonia cooling
are under development. These systems can reach even lower
temperatures, but have not yet been used on a commercial basis.
The ammonia-water systems initially designed to provide cooling
in the built environment, are now being developed to supply
both cold and heat. Ammonia-water systems can still operate
at low source temperatures (to -20 C). The systems can be used
for both heating and cooling purposes. The heat pumps transfer
heat at temperatures of between 30 C and 60 C. The latter
temperature also brings the production of hot water within reach.

Figure 27 The cycle of an absorption heat pump. Source: ECN

Heat discharge

Thermal compressor

Generator

Throttle valve

Throttle valve

Pump

Evaporator

Scale
Ammonia-water systems for industrial cooling provide cooling capacities of 100 kW to a few MWs. Manufacturers supply
systems with a heating capacity of 35 kW for the built environment. Diffusion-absorption heat pumps (DAHP) have been
developed for use in single-family homes and have a heating
capacity of 4 kW. This technology, derived from camping and
hotel fridges, uses helium as a secondary gas, eliminating the
need for a pump. This heat pumps requires a gas burner in order
to supply peak power and domestic hot water.

Refrigerant
vaporization

Heat supply

Absorber

Heat discharge

Figure 28 Operating principle of an ammonia-water absorption heat



pump. Source: BDH

55

Gas Heat Pumps

Efficiencies

3.4.4 Lithium bromide-water systems

The COP of gas absorption pumps while generating heat is


between 1.2 and 1.6. In nominal operating conditions (source
temperature 7 C and delivery of heat at 50 C) their COP is 1.4.
In cooling mode, gas-fired heat pumps achieve a COPc of 0.67. A
measured COP year average of 1.3 is reported for DAHPs.

Lithium bromide-water systems work in the same way as


ammonia-water systems, the only difference being that water
is the sorbate and lithium bromide (LiBr) is the sorbent. Due to
the low vapour pressure of water and its below 0 C freezing
point, this system cannot be used for deep cooling or freezing; it
is mainly suitable for ordinary and comfort cooling. The process
is also suitable for upgrading low-grade heat to a higher temperature and upgrading heat at ambient temperature (10 C) to
a temperature level for low temperature heating (35 C).

Development stage
Gas absorption heat pumps are commercially available on the
market and are used in the Netherlands in both commercial
buildings and collective housing. DAHPs have undergone several
field tests in the Netherlands. One test has recently been carried
out in Germany as well. A second generation DAHP is currently
being developed. These DAHPs will provide 10 kW heating
capacity and domestic hot water and will no longer contain a
peak burner.
An ammonia-water absorption system for domestic use is currently being developed in the United States. This heating and
cooling system has a heating capacity of 18 kW and a COP of
1.4. No information with respect to field test results and possible
market introduction is available to date.

LiBr-H2O systems can be driven in two ways, namely by hot


water (for example from a solar collector or a CHP installation)
or by direct gas heating. Hot water-driven LiBr-H2O systems use
a single-effect system as described previously in this chapter,
whilst most direct gas-fired LiBr-H2O heat pumps use a doubleeffect system. The COP of a single-effect system is 1.7. A COP of
2.2 can be achieved with a double-effect system. The minimum
driving temperature for single-effect systems is generally 80 C
to 110 C. Double-effect systems require a minimum driving
temperature of 130 C to 160 C.

Use and scale


LiBr-H2O systems are used in both the industrial sector and in
the built environment. Although most of them are used for cooling purposes, others are available for heating or for heating and
cooling combined. In Novosibirsk, Russia, a steam-driven LiBrH2O heat pump with a capacity of 2 MW produces hot water
of 80 C.

Development stage
LiBr-H2O systems are commercially available for use in both
the residential and the commercial sector. Figure 33 (page 58)
contains pictures of a LiBr-H2O cooler for domestic and smallbusiness use with a capacity of 16 kW to 115 kW.

3.4.5 ASUE gas absorption heat pumps

Figure 29 A gas-fired reversible ammonia-water/air-water absorption



heat pump. Source: Techneco

56

The prototype of the gas absorption heat pump (GAHP) developed by ASUE (Arbeitsgemeinschaft fr Sparsamen und
Umweltfreundlichen Energieverbrauch / The Association for the
Efficient and Environmentally Friendly Use of Energy) was presented at the IEA Heat Pump Conference held in 2008 in Zrich. This

Chapter 3 | The technology of heat pumps

gas-fired heat pump uses a liquid cycle. Details on the substances


used have not been made public.

Use

Defrost valve

Scale
The GAHP prototype provides a heating capacity of 2 to 4 kW.
Its cooling capacity is around 1.5 kW when providing cooling at
temperatures between 10 C and 15 C.

Absorber

Condenser

Inverter valve

Tube-in-pipe

Evaporator

Absorber / Pre-absorber

The GAHP was developed for space heating in houses, but


can also be used to cool them. The GAHP is intended for both
existing and newly built dwellings. The system can run with
various sources (air or ground) and can transfer heat or cold into
the air or to a system for floor heating or floor cooling.

Solution
pump

Weak
solution

Strong
solution

Refrigerant
(vapour)

Refrigerant
(liquid)

Cold water

Efficiencies
The GAHP delivers heat at temperatures of 35 C to 50 C. A
ground-source heat exchanger with a temperature of 6 C to
8 C was used as a source in a test facility. The temperature lift
amounts to 28 C, achieving a COP of 1.45. The COPc for cooling is 0.43.

Figure 30 Operating diagram of an air-water absorption heat


pump. Source: Techneco

Development stage
The GAHP is in the prototype and field testing stage. The system
is not yet commercially available.

3.5 Solid sorption heat pump


Solid sorption heat pumps can be distinguished from liquid
sorption heat pumps by their use of solid sorbents. Contrary to
liquid sorption, solid substances cannot be pumped around from
absorber to generator to complete the thermal compression step.
Solid sorbents are therefore secured on or in a heat exchanger
which alternately heats the sorbent to a high temperature and
cools it down to a medium temperature.
Sorption onto a solid substance is a batch process, not stopping
until a balance situation between sorbent and sorbate occurs. For
a continuously working heat pump based on solid sorption, the
heat pump is generally designed as a double batch reactor. The
two batches with sorbent are then run in counterphase so that
while one batch completes the sorption process the other batch
is being regenerated.

Low temperature generator


Condenser

Discharge
heat exchanger

High-temperature
generator

Supply of cooled or hot water


Steam
supply

Cooled water
supply

Steam
control valve

Return
cooling-water
Discharge
Heat
recovery

Refrigerant pump
Medium pump

Return coolingwater/hot water

Low-temperature
heat exchanger

High-temperature
heat exchanger

Concentrated medium

Refrigerant

Intermediate medium

Refrigerant (vapour)

Diluted medium

Figure 31 Cycle diagram of a steam-driven, double-effect LiBr-H2O


system. Source: Thermax

57

Gas Heat Pumps

The use of solid sorbents provides the heat pump greater orientational freedom, which is an advantage in mobile use, for example.
The most common and best known solid sorbents are silica gel
and zeolites. These are mainly used in combination with water.
Both systems are discussed in more detail below. Alternative,
innovative sorption systems based on other sorbents and/or sorbates are discussed in section 3.6.

3.5.1 Silica gel-water adsorption heat pump


Silica gel is a highly porous, vitreous material made up of silicon
and oxygen. It can bind water equalling up to 35% of its weight.
The operating principle of silica gel-water adsorption heat
pumps is based on the attraction that silica gel, as a well-known
drying agent, exerts on vapour. By heating the silica gel the water
can be abstracted again as from temperatures as low as 60 C.
Figure 36 shows the schematic composition of an adsorption
heat pump based on silica gel and water. This refrigerant pair is
applied regularly in chillers and its composition is representative

1. Combustion

4. Cooling water

To provide cooling/
heating operation
by using natural gas.

Heat rejection from


air conditioning
system and interior of
the chiller.

2. Cooling
Concentrated
solution enters
absorber and
condensed water
enters ovaporator
for cooling.

3. Vacuum
Auto purge device
maintains the
interior vacuum. No
vacuum pump is needed.

5. Cooling/heating
switch
Auto cooling/heating
switch valve.

6. Hot water
80 C primary heating
water heats water in
tanks.

Figure 32 Direct fired LiBr-H2O chiller/heater developed by Jiao Tong


University, Shanghai. Source: Broad

58

Figure 33 Broad Gas-fired absorption pump for domestic use.



Source: BDH

Chapter 3 | The technology of heat pumps

of solid sorption heat pumps. The figure contains the evaporator,


the condenser and two compartments filled with silica gel,
attached to a heat exchanger. Valves between the compartments
ensure that the vapour flows in the right direction. As with the
LiBr-H2O systems, the entire sorption process occurs under low
pressure. This means that the construction is vacuum-tight and
must be able to withstand underpressure.
While the heat pump is running, hot water and cold water
are flushed successively in counterphase through the two silica
gel compartments, thus creating a quasi-continuous flow of
vapour from the evaporator to the cooled sorbent and from
the heated sorbent to the condenser. The condensate flows
via a pressure equaliser back to the evaporator. At the end
of the regeneration and sorption phase the two silica gel
compartments switchtemperatures, recovering heat between
the reactors.

W: 1,130 mm

D: 795 mm

H: 1,960 mm

Figure 34 Absorption heat pump developed by the German company


Sonnenklima, driven by low-grade heat. Source: Sonnenklima

Figure 37 (see page 60) illustrates the operating cycle of a silica


gel-water adsorption heat pump. Here, heat is supplied at 85 C
and rejected at 35 C, and chilled water is produced at 5 C. The
silica gel is loaded with water in a cycle, varying between 3% and
15% water.
The disadvantage of water as a sorbate is the risk it holds of
freezing at 0 C, so cooling at temperatures below freezing point
cannot be considered for silica gel-water systems. Methanol is
being contemplated as an alternative sorbate to solve this problem,
however silica gel-methanol chillers are still in a very early stage
of development.

Use
Silica gel-water adsorption heat pumps are used virtually
exclusively to cool office buildings and industrial processes.
Their use as a heat pump is restricted due to the limited
temperature lift that can be achieved with this refrigerant pair.
This heat pump is used as a chiller only when a low-cost, relatively
low-temperature (as from 55 C) heat source or waste heat
source is available. It provides cooling to a minimum of 5 C.
Lower temperatures cannot be realised given the risk of the
water freezing (sorbate).

Figure 35 Gas absorption heat pump in a test installation at ECN (left:


the GAHP; right: a central-heating boiler). Source: ECN

59

Gas Heat Pumps

One case is known in which a 5 kW silica gel-water system is


used as a reversible heat pump for cooling and heating. (Nunez et
al., Eurosun 2008: Heating and Cooling with a Small Scale Solar
Driven Adsorption Chiller Combined with a Borehole System).
For heating purposes, the evaporator is linked to a groundcoupled (borehole) heat exchanger and a low temperature heat
distribution system is applied. At present silica gel-water heat
pumps are not available in direct gas-fired models.

Scale
The technology is available for cooling in a power range of 5 kW
to 500 kW and is mainly used to cool buildings. In some cases
the technique is used in the industrial sector for process cooling.
Small-scale systems providing less than 25 kW cooling have only
just recently been introduced onto the market.

Efficiencies
The COPc of adsorption cooling systems for cooling purposes is
between 0.3 and 0.6. The efficiency is strongly influenced by the
temperatures within which the cycle occurs. Silica gel-water is a
good solution especially when the temperature of the available
heat source is too low to drive the LiBr-H2O absorption chiller
efficiently. Systems driven by heat require the lowest possible

Condenser

parasitic electricity consumption for pumps and ventilators; this


parasitic energy consumption strongly influences (in a negative
sense) the overall efficiency of the installation.

Development stage
It was already known in the early twentieth century that an
adsorption cooling system could be made with silica gel and
water. The first waste heat-driven machines were developed
and installed in Japan as from the 1980s, followed by dozens of
installations in Europe, mostly coupled to CHP systems. In recent
years developments have mainly been aimed at coupling with
mini-CHP and micro-CHP systems.

3.5.2 Zeolite-water heat pumps


The name zeolite is derived from Greek. Zein means boiling and
lithos means stone. The name refers to the ability of a substance
to contain a lot of water which is released upon heating. There
are approximately 50 natural zeolites and more than 100 artificial
ones. A zeolite is made up of silicon, aluminium and oxygen
atoms that usually form a tetrahedron (a three-dimensional,
quadrangular figure with four triangular faces), giving the zeolite
a very porous structure. These tetrahedron cages and pores are
perfect for adsorbing water and other sorbates.

Isosteres Silica

Silica gel heat exchanger


100.00

20% wt

Cooling water
circuit

1% wt

P[mbar]

Hot water circuit

10.00

Cooling water
circuit

1.00

Chilled water circuit


Evaporator
0.10

10

15

20

25

30

35

40

45

50

55

60

65

70

75

80

85

90

95

100

Tsilica gel [C]

Figure 36 Schematic composition of an adsorption chiller.


60

Source: ECN

Figure 37 Isosteres diagram of a silica gel-water system indicating the


operating cycle of an adsorption cool system. Source: ECN

Chapter 3 | The technology of heat pumps

The operating principle of zeolite-water systems is similar to


that of silica gel-water systems, with zeolite as the sorbent.
Zeolite-water systems have several advantages. There are
many different types of zeolites, each with their own sorption
characteristic, enabling the zeolite to be geared to the application, for instance to enable the system to absorb or release
water faster or adsorb or desorb larger quantities of liquid
in each cycle. For the most part, zeolites can withstand high
temperatures, unlike silica gel that loses its structure in temperatures over 150 C. This makes zeolite suitable for direct gasdriven heating or heating by means of flue gases. Higher regeneration temperatures also mean that more moisture is released
from the zeolite.
This results in the following performance improvements:
Lower cooling temperatures can be reached.
The process can be driven at higher ambient temperatures.
More moisture and therefore more heat can be absorbed or
released per cycle.
The cycle time can be shortened, thus increasing the power
density.

Figure 38 Examples of adsorption chillers. Source: Solarnext

Use
Zeolite heat pumps are used for heating and/or cooling purposes.
When used for cooling, the lowest temperature that can be
reached is approximately 4 C, due to the use of water as a
efrigerant (and the risk of freezing at lower temperatures). For
heating purposes, this means that the source heat for the evaporator must be above 0 C.
A ground-coupled heat exchanger is generally used in this instance.
The systems are designed for heating with a maximum supply
temperature of 75 C.

Scale and efficiencies


Zeolite heat pumps currently under development are intended for
space heating in single-family homes.
The heat pumps deliver heat varying between 1 kW and 5 kW.
If required, higher peak capacities are provided by an auxiliary
burner. The COP of the zeolite heat pumps currently under development is approximately 1.3.
Figure 39 Developed by ECN: A 2.5 kW silica gel-water chiller for use
in the built environment. Source: ECN

61

Gas Heat Pumps

Development stage

Carbon-ammonia

Various manufacturers are currently developing zeolite heat


pumps. Vaillant has field-tested a number of systems. The first
products are expected to come to market in 2012. The systems
use a singular zeolite module. This means that the heat pump
process is a periodical process. A hybrid system is created by
combining a heat pump with a modulating HE boiler.

Carbon-ammonia systems are based on physisorption. The


ammonia binds onto the surface of carbon under the influence
of Vanderwaals forces (weak, non-electrostatic forces between
atoms or molecules). The way the carbon has been processed
determines the sorption characteristics of the carbon. In most
carbon-ammonia systems the carbon fulfils a dual function: it acts
as a sorbent for the ammonia but also as a heat conductor. The
disadvantage of carbon is that it is a delicate material. Therefore,
alternative sorbents are being researched, such as zeolite,
although many zeolites are not resistant to ammonia.

3.6 Alternative solid-sorption systems


Many new combinations of sorbents and sorbates are being
developed, two of which are discussed here: solid-ammonia and
LiCl-water.

3.6.1 Solid-ammonia
In solid-ammonia heat pumps, ammonia is adsorbed onto a solid
substance. Carbon or salts of ammonia are generally used as a
solid substance. Using ammonia instead of water has the advantage of being able to work with considerably higher pressures.
The pressures in ammonia systems are between 1 bar and 8 bar.
Also, ammonia does not freeze easily.

Only limited use is made of carbon-ammonia systems. Two


places where extensive research is being done into carbonammonia systems are Jiao Tong University in Shanghai, China,
and Warwick University in England.
In 2009, Warwick University and H2O Venture Partners established the Sorption Energy company
centred on two products: a gas-fired heat pump for dwellings

333

Tcon = THN

Dew point temperature [K]

313

283

303

293

20% 15%

25%

323

Condenser
unit

Xmax

Water

Xmin
6

1
4

Tamb

Tdes

Tads = THN

273

Zeolite
unit

263

10%
253
283

293

303

5%
313

323

343

353

363

373

383

393

Condensing gas-fired boiler

Secondary heat exchanger


Heating circuit

Secondary heat exchanger


brine circuit

Condenser/sorbent

Evaporator/absorber

Control valve

2%
333

403

Zeolite temperature [K]

Figure 40 Isosteres diagram for zeolite DDZ70 with water used in


a heat pump. In the cycle the driving temperature is
120 C, heat is supplied at 40 C at an outside temperature
of 6 C. Source: JSHPC 2002

62

Figure 41 Two designs of zeolite-gas heat pumps for use in the built
environment. Source: Viessmann

Chapter 3 | The technology of heat pumps

and a waste heat-driven air-conditioner for cars. The first prototype of the gas-fired heat pump on the basis of carbon and
ammonia is expected in 2010. Model calculations indicate a COP
of 1.5. Capacities vary between 7 kW and 11 kW.

Salt-ammonia

Finally, there are hybrid systems in which a carbon structure containing salt acts as a solid. The ammonia is chemically bonded
onto the salt. The carbon is mainly for purposes of supplying and
removing the heat and immobilising the salt. It has little effect on
the systems sorption characteristic.

Salt-ammonia systems are based on chemisorption. This means


that ammonia is chemically bonded onto salt. This chemical
binding provides a larger amount of heat than the carbon-ammonia
combination. Also, because of the acute changeovers between
loading and unloading, significantly more ammonia per kilogram
of sorbent is regenerated. This is, however, at the expense of
the systems flexibility: the system only works within limited
temperature ranges. Hysteresis is another disadvantage of
chemisorption. This means that for a given temperature the
pressures at which ammonia adsorbs and desorbs differ. Higher
regeneration temperatures are therefore required.

Salt-ammonia systems are still in the prototype stage. Two places


where extensive research is being done into salt-ammonia
systems are ECN and Jiao Tong University in Shanghai. ECN is
working on double-effect salt-ammonia heat transformers for

Figure 42 Example of a carbon-ammonia sorbent reactor based on a


plate heat exchanger for use in a gas-fired adsorption heat
pump. Source: Warwick University

Figure 43 ECN Heat transformer with a capacity of 1 kW.

63

Gas Heat Pumps

the reuse of industrial waste heat. The heat transformer pumps


industrial waste heat from low pressure steam of 120 to 140 C
up to medium pressure steam of 180 C. Jiao Tong University is
focusing on heat pumps for the production of cooling, particularly for use on fishing boats. ECNs current prototype systems have
a heat input of approximately 1 kW. A COP of more than 0.25 is
feasible by up-scaling (the maximum COP of a heat transformer
amounts to approximately 0.5). Jiao Tong University has designed
a chiller with a capacity of 10 kW (at -15 C to -20 C), driven by
vapour of 150 C and with a COP of 0.3.

3.6.2 LiCl-H2O
A liquid sorption-solid sorption heat pump has been developed in
Sweden. This system uses LiCl-H2O, whereby the fluid transforms
into a solid during regeneration. The system therefore has a thermal storage function. It has been developed for the use of low
grade heat from solar collectors, district heating or CHP systems
(with temperatures of 75 C or higher), so there is no direct gas
heating. The Swedish system provides 25 kW heating capacity
and has a heat storage capacity of 76 kWh. The COP comes to
1.6. It also delivers 10 kW cooling capacity at a COPc of 0.7.
Besides, it provides up to 60 kW cold storage. With dimensions
of 120 cm wide, 80 cm deep and 160 cm high, the system is fairly
compact (see figure 44). The first market for solar-driven cooling
is the Mediterranean.

64

Chapter 3 | The technology of heat pumps

Figure 44 LiCl-H2O absorption heat pump. Source: Nyteknik

65

Chapter 4 | Design aspects and use in buildings

Chapter 4

Design aspects and


use in buildings
It is impossible to imagine public and commercial buildings today without heat pumps. This is
partly as a consequence of the demand for more climate comfort. Heat pumps fit easily into low
temperature systems and in many instances also fill the demand for cooling. Stricter legislation
with respect to energy performance is also a major stimulus. This chapter addresses the main
design aspects of heat pumps in various applications.

4.1 Electric or gas-driven?


New buildings are chiefly designed with electric heat pumps,
as architects are relatively free in their choices in this respect.
Electric heat pumps are also gaining ground in existing buildings. These are often relatively small heat pumps that use
ambient air as their heat source. They provide the base load in
spring and autumn, leaving peak demand during pre-heating
processes and on truely cold days in winter to boiler installations. Boilers also generally heat tap water. Although systems
such as these reduce CO2 emissions, they could have been
designed better from an economic perspective. This can be
attributed to the widely divergent costs of electricity and
(natural) gas. Calculated per energy unit (for example kWh) the
price of electricity (up to 10,000 kWh/year) is approximately
3.5 times higher than that of natural gas. This is because elec-

tricity is produced (with natural gas, amongst other things) in


capital-intensive power stations, whereby much of the primary
energy is lost in the form of heat. More specifically, this means
that electric heat pumps must achieve a much higher efficiency
in order to achieve the same cost of energy level as gas-driven
heat pump systems.
For now, gas heat pumps emit considerably lower amounts of
CO2 because the production of electricity with the current fuel
mix produces more CO2 than the combustion of natural gas does.
In the long term this difference will lessen as more electricity
is produced with sustainable sources. By that time, however,
gas supplies will be based partly on green gas from sustainable
sources.

67

Gas Heat Pumps

As described in section 3.1, heat pumps can roughly be divided


into systems with mechanical compressors and systems with
thermal compressors. This also applies to gas-driven heat pumps,
which can be divided into gas-engine heat pumps (sections 3.2
and 3.3) and gas absorption and gas adsorption pumps (sections
3.4, 3.5 and 3.6). In the former concept gas is converted in a
combustion engine into mechanical kinetic energy, which subsequently drives a mechanical compressor and compresses the
refrigerant. This type of heat pump closely resembles electric
heat pumps, the difference being the way in which it drives the
mechanical compressor.
Absorption systems use a system in which a substances pair
(generally water-lithium bromide or ammonia-water) absorb
into each other, releasing heat. Separating these substances
again requires higher temperature levels. These systems have
large internal heat flows and must therefore have a large heat
exchanging surface, which increases their weight and generally
reduces their efficiency. A major advantage of absorption systems
is that they have no moving parts other than a solution pump.
Therefore, they require relatively little maintenance and their
reliability is high. Moreover, the larger the absorption systems
the greater their economic and energetic advantages are. As an
additional benefit, their (heat) source can be relatively small.

The figures below show the heat flows of the various types of
heat pumps, along with their generally accepted efficiencies. In
figure 1 the usual fuel mix (natural gas and coal) is supplied to
a power station. This energy quantity is set at 100 units. The
power station (including distribution) has an electrical efficiency
of 42% of lower heating value or 39% of upper heating value,
rounded up to 40% in the figure. This means that (of lower
heating value) 60% of the supplied primary energy is lost. This
electricity is subsequently used to drive an electric heat pump
with a COP (Coefficient of Performance, see section 3.1) of
4. The heat pump delivers 160 units of energy (120 units are
taken from the environment). This means that ultimately 160
units of heat are supplied with 100 units of primary energy
(the fuel mix of the power station). The PER (Primary Energy
Ratio) then comes to 1.6 (or 160%). If this electricity drives an
electric absorption pump (situation 4) the total PER drops to 0.64
(or 64%). Thus from an energy point of view, the systems performance is substantially less than that of a conventional system.
In gas engine heat pumps (figures 2, 4 and 5) natural gas is converted into a mechanical movement that drives a compressor.
The total efficiency of this conversion is 30%. Of the supplied 100
units, 70 units of energy are released as heat, some of which (30

Primary
energy
100%

Primary
energy
100%

Power station
efficiency 40%

Gas engine
efficiency 30%

Loss 60%

40%

Source 120%

Electric
heat pump
COP = 4

30%

Delivery 160%

Source 90%

CO2-emission: 0.015 kg/MJ

Figure 1 Electric heat pump (simplified calculation example with


rounded off figures). Source: TNO

68

Flue gas loss 30%

Mechanically driven
heat pump
COP = 4

Cooling
water 40%
120%

Delivery
160%

CO2-emission: 0.015 kg/MJ

Figure 2 Gas engine heat pump (simplified calculation example).


Source: TNO

Chapter 4 | Design aspects and use in buildings

units) flow via the flue gas discharge pipe into the environment.
The remainder (40 units) is transferred to the water that is heated
by the heat pump. If the heat pump share has a COP of 4 in
this situation as well, the heat pump provides 120 units of
heat. Combined with the heat from the gas engine (40 units)
the total useful quantity of supplied heat amounts to 160 units,
equalling a PER of 1.6 (or 160%). Therefore, in theory, the systems
efficiency is similar to that of the electric heat pump in figure 1. It
should be noted that the exact efficiency of an installation greatly
depends on the specific situation and on the configuration of the
heat pump.
The engine heat in standard gas engine heat pumps is used in
heating operation to prevent the evaporator from being covered
with white frost in cold outdoor temperatures (figure 5). In
cooling operation or in warm outdoor temperature conditions
this heat is generally released into the environment and must
therefore be considered lost. Many of these systems can remove
the engine heat via a separate circuit. During heating operation
in warm outdoor temperature conditions (when no heat is
needed to prevent white frost on the evaporator) this share of the
engine heat can also be applied usefully (figure 4), for example
to produce hot water.

Source 54%

Gas absorption
heat pump
COP = 1.6

Flue gas loss 30%

30%

Source 50%

Mechanically driven
heat pump
COP = 4

Delivery 120%

CO2-emission: 0.032 kg/MJ

Figure 4 Gas engine heat pump during heating in low outdoor


temperature conditions (simplified calculation
example). Source: TNO

Primary
energy
100%
Flue gas loss 30%

Gas engine
efficiency 30%

Useful heat 40%

30%

Delivery 144%

CO2-emission: 0.035 kg/MJ

Figure 3 Gas absorption pump (simplified calculation example).


Source: TNO

Gas engine
efficiency 30%

Flue gas loss 10%

Primary
energy
100%

Primary
energy
100%

Source useful
cooling 90%

Mechanically driven
heat pump
COP = 4

Delivery 120%

CO2-emission: 0.032 kg/MJ

Figure 5 Gas engine heat pump in operation (simplified calculation


example). Source: TNO

69

Gas Heat Pumps

With a separate circuit for the engine heat, some of this heat can
be put to good use (figure 5) when in cooling operation as well.
In this (cooling) situation the heat that is extracted by the heat
pump is discharged into the environment. This heat cannot be
put to good use.
Conclusion: The efficiency of gas engine heat pumps is
higher than that of gas absorption pumps and comparable to
that of electric heat pumps. Gas heat pumps are highly suitable
for situations in which heating and cooling is carried out simultaneously. Electric heat pumps have the highest efficiency
when only the cooling function is required. The ratio between
the demand for heating and the demand for cooling figures
largely in the choice of heat pump. Table 3 shows the ratio
between the heating capacity and the simultaneously available
Drive

Mechanical Compressor

Thermal Compressor

Gas

Gas engine heat pump


PER 1.2 2.4

Absorption heat pump


PER 1.3 1.8

Electric

Electrical compression heat


pump PER 1.4 2.2

n/a

Thermal

n/a

Adsorption heat pump


PER 1.2 1.4

Table 1 The PER of the various types of heat pumps during heating.
Source: TNO

Drive

Mechanical Compressor

Thermal Compressor

Gas

Gas engine heat pump


PER 1.0 1.2

Absorption heat pump


PER 0.2 0.7

Electric

Electrical compression heat


pump PER 1.1 1.6

n/a

Thermal

n/a

Adsorption heat pump


PER 0.2 0.4

Table 2 The PER of the various types of heat pumps during cooling.
Source: TNO
Drive

Mechanische compressor Thermische compressor

Gas

Gas engine heat pump


0.33 0.45

Absorption heat pump


2.6 6.0

Electric

Electrical compression heat


pump 1.25 1.35

n/a

Thermal

n/a

Adsorption heat pump


3.5 6.0

Table 3 Ratio between the heating capacity and the cooling capacity
of various types of heat pumps (Pheating/Pcooling). Source: TNO

70

cooling capacity. A value of less than 1 indicates that the


available cooling capacity is greater than the available heating
capacity.

4.2 Designs in new and existing buildings


The conditions for placing heat pumps are most favourable in
newly planned buildings. New building projects offer most freedom of design and their installation can be optimised for and
integrated in the project. However, to have projects designed
integrally is not always easy. The fact that many parties are
involved and the technical complexity of many projects make it
difficult to optimise.
Integrated designs coordinate all aspects and optimise their
correlation. Architectural concessions are perhaps required to
achieve the best possible system operation and this may even
have aesthetic implications. It is important that all parties
get together right from the initial design to jointly examine
all the possibilities. Equally important is the financial process
in which the total cost of ownership (TCO) or the life cycle
analysis (LCA, see figure 9) is explored. This system scrutinises
the initial investment and the maintenance costs during the
entire life span and is aimed at keeping these costs as low as
possible. These processes are easiest when the party that develops the building is also the user or when the tenant is closely
involved in the project, in which case the investors can share in
the lower energy costs. The considerations are more difficult if
the investor does not share in the tenants lower energy costs.
There is generally no possibility of increasing the amount of the
lease. Furthermore, developers with a strongly budget-driven
organisation can be faced with internal obstacles. Investments
(in innovation, for example) frequently fall under a different
responsibility than the operational costs and in some instances
their correlation cannot be optimised.
Relevant parameters for the design of a heat pump installation
can generally be assessed early on in the design and construction process. Examples of these parameters are the annual heat
demand, cooling demand, hot water demand, ventilation volume
and maximum amount of power required for these functions. It
is also very important to estimate how heating and cooling will
be used.

Chapter 4 | Design aspects and use in buildings

2.5

7
6

Pheating/Pcooling [-]

PER [-]

1.5

4
3
2

0.5

1
0

Gas engine
heat pump

Electrical
compression
heat pump

Absorption
heat pump
(gas-driven)

Absorption
heat pump
(thermally driven)

Figure 6 PER of the various types of heat pumps for heating.


Source: TNO

Gas engine
heat pump

Electrical
compression
heat pump

Absorption
heat pump
(gas-driven)

Absorption
heat pump
(thermally driven)

Figure 8 Ratio between heating capacity and cooling capacity of the


various types of heat pumps. Source: TNO

1.8

ASPECT

1.6

SYSTEM

1.4

Climate

1.2

Users

Investment costs

PER [-]

Building
Operational cost

Regulation
Real estate value
Transfer systems

0.8

Ownership ratios

Heating, ventilation, air conditioning

0.6
Inform
Specifications

0.4

Design
Development
Implementation
Use/after care

0.2

PROCESS

0
Gas engine
heat pump

Electrical
compression
heat pump

Absorption
heat pump
(gas-driven)

Absorption
heat pump
(thermally driven)

Figure 7 PER of the various types of heat pumps for cooling.


Source: TNO

Figure 9

An integrated approach requires multi-dimensional


weighing of many factors. Source: TNO

71

Gas Heat Pumps

Development phase

Management phase

Government
Financiers
Consultants

Project developer

Civil-law notary

Architect

Architectural Consultant

Contractor

Subcontractor

Investor

Real estate agent

Technical Consultant

Administrator

Technical
fitters

Subcontractors
Administrator

Tenant/user

Figure 10 Many parties are involved in new builds and renovations.


Source: BDH

Yes

1. Is heat demand dominant?

Yes

No

2. Is cooling required?

Besides the characteristics of the building, the specific qualities


of the gas-driven heat pump also figure in mapping possibilities.
Characteristics that distinguish gas-driven heat pumps from electric versions include:
Good heat supply (heating) efficiency.
Limited heat extraction (cooling) efficiency.
Extract a small amount of heat from the system or the environment at the heat supply (therefore requiring a relatively small
source).
Relatively low electricity connection capacity.
Based on these characteristics one can quickly assess whether
a gas heat pump is an attractive option in a specific situation
(see figure 11). If a gas-driven heat pump is considered viable, the designer must study these quantities to gain an
insight into the distribution of the heat demand, the cooling
demand and the hot water demand during the day. The temperature levels for heating and cooling are also significant in this
respect.
Sections 4.3 to 4.6 describe various sectors of public and commercial buildings, as well as the specific energy requirement and
applications for gas heat pumps. Table 4 contains key data of the
entire utility sector.

No

Market segment utility

No

3. Is the electricity infrastructure heavy


enough for an electric heat pump or
chiller?

Gas heat pump is an


interesting option.
Pursue in more detail.

Yes

Gas heat pump is seemingly


not an interesting option.

Figure 11 Rough method to inventory the options for gas-driven heat


pumps.

72

Number of buildings Remark

Offices

60,000

Education

13,700

Hospitals
Nursing and care

128
1,300

Shops

144,000

Industrial halls

101,000

Indoor swimming pools/


combination swimming pools

81% rental

490

Hotels/conference centres

2,400

Restaurants

9,585

Indoor sports facilities

2,160

79% rental

36% managed by local


councils

46% managed by local councils

Table 4 Number of buildings in the public and commercial sectors in


the Netherlands. Source: Ecofys sustainable heating and cooling 2007

Chapter 4 | Design aspects and use in buildings

4.3 Care sector


The care sector is divided into cure and care. Hospitals and
other institutions where people stay in the short-term to heal
fall mainly under cure. Nursing homes and care homes in
particular fall under care. The cure sector can be subdivided
into the hot floor, consisting of operating theatres and intensive care departments, the wards, the kitchens and the sterilisation departments. Cure institutions generally comprise blocks
of several low-rise and high-rise buildings, usually with several
wings in which various functions are housed. Table 5 provides
an overall impression of the energy flows. The data shows that
this sector, with its dominant heat demand, lends itself well to
gas heat pumps. In some situations cooling and heating occur
simultaneously. High reliability is required; many cure institutions have an emergency power system, ensuring that electrically
fed systems have power.

4.3.1 New buildings


Gas heat pumps are very suitable in new-construction projects
in the care sector, particularly when each building section has
its own installation instead of one collective installation for all
buildings. However, the systems maximum supply temperature
does require attention during the design phase. This should not
exceed 45 C. If taken into account right from the start of the
design process, this aspect usually does not pose any major
constraints. Care buildings generally comprise relatively many,
small rooms. Indoor units may be beneficial when conditioning
rooms used for several purposes. The disadvantage of systems
with indoor units is that they cause a lot of air movement,
thereby spreading particles of dust. In certain circumstances this
is undesirable.

4.3.2 Existing buildings


As indicated previously, care institutions generally comprise
various buildings and wings. Gas heat pumps can be a suitable
option when renovating or expanding a complex. In order to use
electric heat pumps in these instances the electricity grid usually
needs to be reinforced.
The systems design supply temperature is another main point
of attention. The design temperature applies only while heating
up, during extremely cold weather (low outdoor temperatures

Figure 12 Heat pump project at Twekkelerveld care institute.



Source: BDH

Characteristic properties of cure

Care

Number of buildings

128 buildings among


100 hospital organisations

1,300

Reference building

46,500 m2 gross floor area


(GFA) per organisation

4,800 m2 gross floor area (GFA)

Heat demand

Normal

Normal

Cooling demand

Present among 96%


56% of the entire gross
floor area has cooling

Present among 50%


26% of the entire gross floor
area has cooling

Simultaneous cooling
and heating demand

High

Depending on the buildings


orientation

Energy consumption for High


domestic hot water

High

Gas consumption

High (27 m3/m2/year)

Electricity consumption

High (104 kWh/m /year)

High (73 kWh/m2/year)

Required reliability of
climate control

Very high

High

High (22 m3/m2/year)

Table 5 Characteristic properties of buildings in the cure and care


sectors (national average). Source: AgentschapNL 2007

73

Gas Heat Pumps

combined with strong winds and no solar heat gain) and


low internal heat load. In actual practice, this design temperature is seldom required and then only briefly. The system
almost always functions at much lower temperature levels.
It is therefore a viable option to install a facility, such as an
auxiliary boiler, to cover these extreme conditions. These are
relatively low-investment boilers and are therefore economically
attractive.
If the systems already installed in the building can neither be
used nor modified, it is a relatively simple matter to install
indoor units for cooling and heating. They can be integrated
into the ceilings or placed above windows and doors. This is
a suitable way for the designer to fill the need for heating and
cooling in the building.

4.4 Offices
The office market is diverse; there are as many small office
buildings as there are large ones. Large office buildings in particular can sometimes be architectural tours de force and are often
difficult to air-condition. Furthermore, dominant demand for
cooling is not uncommon in these buildings. Heat and cold
storage systems are often a good option because of the scale of
the buildings. Heat demand often dominates in smaller existing
office buildings coupled to warehouses or production halls, where
gas heat pumps would be the best choice.

Characteristic properties of office buildings (national average)


Number of buildings

60,000 offices

Reference building - small

600 m2 gross floor area (GFA)

Reference building - medium-sized

6,000 m2 GFA

Reference building - large

19,000 m2 GFA

Heat demand

0.38 GJ/m2/year

Cooling demand

0.025 GJ/m2/year

Simultaneous cooling and heating demand

Low

Energy consumption for domestic hot water

Low

Gas consumption

15 m3/m2/year

Electricity consumption

88 kWh/m2/year

Required reliability of climate control

Low

Table 6 Characteristic properties of office buildings (national average).


Source: TNO

74

4.4.1 New buildings


As in other sectors, new buildings in the office market offer the
greatest freedom of choice. Because most offices are initially
let, it is important that when this period expires the building,
possibly with minor modifications, is again interesting to the
next user. Energy costs make up an increasingly larger part of
accommodation costs. Furthermore, investments in heating,
cooling and ventilating are increasing as office buildings are
not only required to meet regulations, but must also provide
a comfortable and healthy working environment. Lighting has
become increasingly more important in this respect. In modern
office buildings heating is generally subordinate to cooling and
ventilation. Simultaneous heating and cooling occurs only in
large-scale buildings and in situations that catch very little sun,
if any, or in very open constructions. There is not much demand
for simultaneous heating and cooling in small and mediumsized office buildings. Demand for hot water is very limited and
only occurs for toilet facilities (possibly with showers) and for
kitchens or pantries. As a rule, heat demand for hot tap water
is subordinate to the total energy balance.

4.4.2 Existing buildings


In smaller and medium-sized office buildings demand for heat
frequently dominates, especially when the offices are connected
to warehouses or production halls. Gas heat pumps are often
an interesting option when renovating these offices. This is
reinforced by the fact that commercially available heat pumps
often dovetail well with the required capacities for these
buildings. This type of building also frequently requires
simultaneous heating and cooling. Gas heat pumps can therefore perform well in this segment. Investments in heat and cold
storage systems are frequently too high or they are too complex
from a technical point of view.

4.5 Hotel and recreational sector


Hotels and recreational buildings have a relatively large heating
requirement, mainly due to the high demand for hot water at peak
times during the day. The hotel and recreational sector is therefore
characterised by a dominant heat demand, which generally corresponds well with the capacities of commercially available gas heat
pumps. This sector also frequently requires simultaneous heating
and cooling. Gas heat pumps are therefore an interesting option.

Chapter 4 | Design aspects and use in buildings

4.5.1 New buildings


As stated previously, there is a relatively large demand for
heating in hotels and recreational buildings. Gas heat pumps
are therefore an attractive choice. Heat and cold storage combined with gas heat pumps is often a good solution for larger
new-build properties. If the new-build plan covers a large area
with a low building density, smaller decentralised installations
(or installations that serve a cluster of buildings) are probably
more preferable.

4.5.2 Existing buildings


With only limited options for hot and cold storage it is not easy
to improve the energetic efficiency of buildings in the hotel and
recreational sector when renovating. Given the demand for
simultaneous heating and cooling and the large demand for
hot water, gas-driven heat pumps are a favourable alternative.
The electricity infrastructure can be a bottleneck in this sector
as well.
Figure 13 Office building with a gas engine heat pump (see section
7.9). Source: Gasengineering

4.6 Retail sector


Real estate in the retail sector can be divided into three
segments: supermarkets, small shops (< 1,000 m2 gross floor
area) and large shops (> 5,000 m2 gross floor area). There is
a high demand for heat in supermarkets during winter. In the
event of unoptimised individual chillers and freezers, heat can
be required even when outdoor temperatures are relatively
mild, as the chillers remove heat from the shop. If high-quality

Characteristic properties of hotels (national average)


Number of buildings

2,400

Reference building

2,400 m2 gross floor area (GFA)

Heat demand

Standard

Cooling demand

Often

Simultaneous cooling and heating demand

Relatively often

Energy consumption for domestic hot water

125 m2/year (indicative)

Gas consumption

35 m3/m2/year (indicative)

Electricity consumption

100 kWh/m2/year (indicative)

Required reliability of climate control

High

Table 7 Characteristic properties of hotels (national average).


Source: Cogen Projects

Figure 14 Hotels have a relatively large heat demand. Source: BDH

75

Gas Heat Pumps

chillers and freezers are used, demand for cooling is dominant


during much of the year (in any case during the summer
months). Unlike in other countries, there is no high priority for
air-conditioning in supermarket chains in the Netherlands. Some
countries, where climate control is important in connection with
the shelf life of fresh products in summer, even have fully airconditioned supermarkets.
Supermarkets will soon undergo considerable changes in their
cooling and heating patterns due to revised legislation. In effect,
this means that temperatures in supermarkets in the Netherlands
vary somewhat. Even during the winter months, owners prefer to
heat as little as possible as the chillers and freezers cool some of
the introduced heat, generating high energy bills.
The retail sector seldom requires simultaneous heating and
cooling. There is also little demand for hot water. Whether gas
heat pumps are an interesting option must be examined for
each situation. The capacities of the commercially available heat
pumps dovetail well with the retail sectors requirement (see
table 8).
Table 8 contains the data of a reference supermarket. Shops also
vary significantly in their requirements. From an energy point of
view boutiques and DIY centres cannot be compared to each
other.
Energy consumption of 1500 m2 supermarket
Gas consumption

46,827 m3/year

Electricity consumption

739,543 kWh/year

Gas heat pumps can certainly be attractive in these sectors,


but the possibilities must be examined for each case. Generally
speaking, simultaneous heating and cooling seldom occurs and
usually there is not much demand for hot water.
Shop lighting is very important because sales are directly
influenced by the visibility of goods and how they are presented.
Lighting often produces a considerable amount of heat and
consequently cooling is required above heat. The best solution
is to tackle this at the source by using low-energy lighting.
Low-energy lamps are gaining ground but are not yet commonly
applied in most shops, so cooling continues to be a major
function, especially in shops that focus on presenting their
goods.

4.6.1 New buildings


Most new-build small and medium-sized shops are part of a
larger whole or are integrated into buildings with combined
residential and office functions. When considering only the retail
function here, one can see that the heat produced by lighting,
for instance, greatly influences the indoor climate because the
buildings are so well insulated. Proper ventilation and often
cooling as well are therefore essential in many retail buildings.
Due to the large amount of heat that is produced, heating these
buildings is often of minor importance. The use of hot water
is generally insubstantial as well. All in all, there is a dominant
demand for cooling and so gas heat pumps are not appropriate.
Gas heat pumps are particularly suitable in situations with a
dominant demand for heat. However, specific circumstances do
exist in which gas heat pumps are appealing for new-construction projects with retail facilities. A specific example is shops,
offices and dwellings combined in one building. The balance
between demand for heating and demand for cooling in these
buildings is very different, which makes gas heat pumps a
particularly suitable option.

Distribution of energy consumption

Share of total primary


energy consumption
[%]

Cooling

326,753 kWh/year

35.5

Freezing

141,064 kWh/year

15.3

Lighting

111,832 kWh/year

12.2

4.6.2 Existing buildings

Heating

46,827 m3/year

19.6

Ventilation

34,730 kWh/year

3.8

Other

125,164 kWh/year

13.6

Existing retail buildings are often not energetically optimised.


Despite the relatively large heat load (due to lighting, for example)
there is usually still a need for heating in winter. It depends on
the situation whether gas heat pumps are a good solution here.
It is often difficult for users of premises to change the existing

Table 8 Energy consumption of a reference supermarket of 1500 m2.


76

Source: AgentschapNL

Chapter 4 | Design aspects and use in buildings

4.7 Design aspects

It is impossible to state in advance which strategy is preferable.


It depends heavily on investment costs, demand pattern, energy
consumption and related costs of energy. In some instances, both
strategies are combined, providing three alternatives:
The heat pump operates on its own;
The heat pump and the co-heating facility operate together;
The co-heating device operates on its own.

Many heat pump systems are bivalent systems. This means that a
heat or cold generator is deployed in addition to the heat pump.
The energy efficiency of this extra device is often lower than the
heat pumps, but requires a considerably lower investment per
kilowatt of thermal power. The base load is supplied by the heat
pump (this is the preferential device and runs many operating
hours) and the non-preferential device kicks in on an incidental
basis to help cover peak demand. The energetic performance of
bivalent systems is slightly lower than that of heat pumps that are
designed for peak demand, but the difference is relatively small
as little use is made of the additional device. Bivalent systems
are interesting options as they can be optimised with regard to
energy and cost.

These strategies apply not only to the heating function, but also
to cooling and to producing hot water. Moreover, a different
strategy may apply to space heating than to space cooling or to
the production of hot water. The manner in which the operations
are regulated is very important as regards the energetic performances and the functioning of the entire system. Depending on
the difference in efficiency the performance of the total system
can drop drastically if regulated incorrectly. It is therefore essential that sufficient attention is paid to the regulating strategy
when designing a system. The same applies to the start-up of
the installation; finely tuned control is necessary to guarantee the
system is regulated as intended under all operating conditions.

system. If existing systems cannot be used or if they cannot be


modified, it is relatively easy to install indoor units for heating
and cooling. They can be integrated into ceilings or installed
above windows and doors. This is an easy way to fill the need for
heating and cooling.

Another reason for using a bivalent system is the availability


of a backup in case the heat pump exceeds its capacity. If, for
instance, the source temperature drops below a certain critical
value or if the transfer temperature climbs too high, the system
can still operate. There are roughly two strategies for bivalent
operation:
In parallel operation the heat pump and the non-preferential
device run together during peak hours. The two generators
combined provide the entire heating or cooling demand.
Their capacities can therefore be kept to a minimum. So in a
parallel operation system, either the heat pump operates on
its own or the heat pump and the co-heating device operate
together.
In alternative operation the heat pump is switched off as
soon as it is on the brink of exceeding its capacity and the
entire demand for heating or cooling is provided by the nonpreferential device. The non-preferential device must have
sufficient capacity to cover the entire demand for heating or
cooling. With this strategy either the heat pump or the nonpreferential generator operates.

Figure 15 Heat pumps on the roof of a shopping centre in Geleen.



Source: Gasengineering

77

Gas Heat Pumps

4.7.1 Distribution systems

Temperature levels of the distribution system

Gas heat pumps transfer their heat to the air by means of special
heat exchangers that are also used in VRF systems (section
3.2.2). This is the standard solution particularly for gas engine
heat pumps.

Various suppliers of gas engine heat pumps offer special hydro


units. These units transfer heat produced by the heat pump to
water and can be used in combination with surface heating,
concrete core activation, low temperature radiators or fan coil
units. This means these systems resemble conventional heating
systems. The ultimate efficiency and functioning of the heat
pump system depend strongly on the hydraulic control. As a
basic rule, mixing water flows of various temperatures must be
avoided as much as possible, as the heat pumps must otherwise generate a higher supply temperature than required on the
transfer side. This is detrimental to the heat pumps energetic
performance.

However, the disadvantage of this design is that it calls for a


relatively large amount of refrigerant; the pipes leading to
the indoor units are filled with a liquid or vapour refrigerant.
The advantage of a system with indoor units is that it can be
designed as a three-pipe system, enabling each separate unit to
cool or heat. The heat that is removed from one space can be used
immediately in another space. This can be a big advantage when
demand for cooling and for heating differs significantly between
rooms. Gas absorption systems do not enable simultaneous
cooling and heating, not even in restricted measure. Connecting
and adjusting these systems depends on the type and make.
There are no rules of thumb for this. For specific information
one should refer to the product information leaflets and the
installation guide for such devices.

In order to reach the highest possible efficiency, the distribution systems design temperature must be as low as possible.
This is why surface heating or concrete core activation is often
combined with heat pumps. There are also mixed systems with
surface heating and low temperature radiators or fan coils. A
standard mixing control is generally used with surface heating

-15

-15

-10

-10
Deployment of non-preferential generator

-5
0
3
5

Outdoor Temperature [C]

Outdoor Temperature [C]

Deployment of non-preferential generator

Dimensioning point

10
15

Deployment of gas heat pump

0
3
5

Dimensioning point

10
15

20

Deployment of gas heat pump

20
Days in
heating season

Figure 16 Bivalent gas heat pump installation in parallel operation


mode. Source: TNO

78

-5

Days in
heating season

Figure 17 Bivalent gas heat pump installation in alternative


operation mode. Source: TNO

Chapter 4 | Design aspects and use in buildings

systems in combination with conventional high temperature


generators (such as central-heating boilers). This lowers the
boiler supply temperature to below the maximum permitted
temperature for surface heating, which is not advisable for
heat pumps. Heat pumps reach maximum efficiency when they
transfer the correct (low) temperature level themselves. Surface
heating is therefore incorporated into the hydraulic connection
preferably in the same way as a radiator, so without a mixing
system and without an extra circulation pump (figures 18
and 19 on page 81).
The same applies when choosing a mixed distribution system,
for example surface heating in combination with low temperature radiators. The design temperatures of both distribution
systems must be the same. If not, the following problems may
occur:
In the event of a control with heating curve, the control should
be set to the system with the highest design temperature (in
this case the radiators). This is always too high for surface
heating. The surface heating must be fitted with a mixing control to compensate this. This nullifies the advantage of surface
heating as a low temperature system (namely, a higher energetic efficiency).
If the system is controlled by a room thermostat, the system
temperature is set to only just meet the heat demand of the
relevant space. The set temperature for one of the distribution
systems can be much lower than the design temperature.

4.7.2 Buffers
Heat pump systems are often fitted with a heat buffer. There are
separate buffers for separate purposes, namely:
To completely separate the primary and secondary circuits
(open distributor);
To help the heat pump run more smoothly (less rapid
temperature changes, less switching on and off);
To bridge periods without electricity or gas. This function
resembles the first one as regards switching but its capacity is
different as it is geared to the demand for heat over a certain
period of time.
Heat pump suppliers generally recommend a minimum volume
flow over the condenser. This is necessary, for instance, to ensure

Efficiency improvement in the base load


As described in chapter 2 and section 4.7 and based on the
Dutch load/duration curve, TNO Bouw en Ondergrond (TNO Built
Environment and Geosciences) has calculated that the combination
of gas heat pump and central-heating boiler is the best combination for many situations. The relatively expensive gas heat pump is
designed at approximately 30% of the maximum heating capacity
in kW. With this 30% the installation can meet 88% of the annual
heating demand. The remaining 12% of the (peak) heating demand
and, if necessary, the hot water is produced by the low-cost HE107
central-heating boiler.
This combination can be applied in new and existing installations.
Because of the substantial efficiency improvement in existing installations the combination is technically and economically very attractive, also from an environmental point of view. Practical examples
have shown that adding gas heat pumps to existing installations,
providing 30% of the total heating capacity, produces savings of
dozens of percentages.

proper heat transfer in the condenser and to keep the heating


water in the heat pump from becoming overheated, which
could trip the safety valve. In practice this minimum volume
flow is often guaranteed by installing a bypass with an overflow valve or an open distributor/collector in the system. This
can cause the heat pump to shuttle, the more so when it is
regulated on the basis of a heating curve. Shuttling occurs
when the short-circuit system (bypass pipe or open distributor)
does not have enough capacity (heat content). When the heat
pump switches on, the short-circuit circuit reheats quickly,
whereupon the heat pump switches off. This causes the shuttle
behaviour.
The best solution is to install a switch buffer via which the bypass
flow can circulate. When the distribution system has too much
influence on the volume flow via the heat pump (all transfer
groups can fill up/jam), make sure they are separated hydraulically

Recommendations
Select equal design temperatures for all distribution systems,
even when the systems differ.
Apply surface heating and concrete core activation without
mixing control and without an additional pump.

79

Gas Heat Pumps

by means of a parallel buffer (figure 20). The two circuits can


then run independently from each other. The secondary circuit
often has a revolution-controlled pump, ensuring a constant
differential pressure on the transfer groups. The temperature of
the buffer is regulated here by means of a heating curve.
Systems that are regulated by a (room) thermostat and do not
have a switch buffer must be installed in such a way that the
distribution system in the regulated room cannot be switched
off, thus ensuring a continuous minimum volume flow over the
heat pump (figure 21). In principle, there is no need for a switch
buffer if the heat content in this circuit is sufficient to prevent
shuttle behaviour.
When the heat pump needs to run more smoothly (for example,
when there are not enough delays in the system), a buffer can
be connected in series, increasing the systems heat content and
thus the delay. There is a disadvantage connected to placing
the buffer in the supply pipe: when heat is demanded the
supply temperature increases slowly, taking longer for the
installation to meet the heat demand. This is because the
temperatures in the buffer and in the distribution system change
at the same time. It is therefore better to install the buffer in
the return pipe.
It is not recommended to use buffers in series, however. Parallel
operation is preferred for systems that require a buffer.

Recommendations
When designing a bypass, pay attention to the heat content of
the by-passed circuit; this may be not too small.
Do not use buffers in series with the heat pump.

4.7.3 Sources
The heat source is one of the most important subsystems of
the entire heat pump system. This is not always recognised.
The heat source generally delivers free ambient heat, giving
the energy generated by the heat pump a sustainable character. Unusable ambient heat (low temperature) is upgraded
by the addition of relatively little high-grade energy to a
temperature that provides useful heat. The performances and

80

costs of the entire system are therefore largely determined by


the heat source.
A major feature of sorption heat pumps is that they require
a smaller source capacity than compression heat pumps with
the same heating capacity. The Sankey diagrams in section 4.1
show that gas engine heat pumps withdraw 0.75 units from the
source for every unit of delivered heat. Gas-driven sorption heat
pumps withdraw 0.37 - 0.56 units from the source. Generally
speaking, the better the heat pump performs (the higher the
PER), the more energy the source system or sustainable source
system supplies.
Considering the required source capacities for commercially
available gas-driven heat pumps the most obvious heat sources
are groundwater and ambient air. Gas engine heat pumps
generally use ambient air as a heat source. This means that this
type of heat pump cannot use heat and cold stored underground
and therefore requires no investments in additional facilities. The
disadvantage is that gas engine heat pumps cannot make use
of free cooling (see page 84). If some form of cold storage is
required, it must be stored in the ground or in groundwater with
two wells.

Groundwater as a heat source


Groundwater is an ideal heat source for heat pumps given its
availability and temperature level. Furthermore, the ground lends
itself perfectly for storing large amounts of cold and heat in
aquifers (water-bearing beds).
Water cooled in aquifers during winter is a very efficient means
for cooling buildings in summer.
The use of groundwater sources is subject to certain restrictions:
permit grants, the quality of the groundwater (corrosion problems or iron residue upon contact with air) and costs. No permit
is required to extract up to 10 m3/h of groundwater outside
water-collection areas. The pumped up, cooled water must be
re-injected into the ground, usually into the same water-bearing
layer, by means of an injection well. The extraction well and the
injection well must be far enough apart to prevent interflow
(pumping up re-injected water).

Chapter 4 | Design aspects and use in buildings

T
T

Gaswarmtepomp
Gas heat pump

Gas heat pump


Gaswarmtepomp
Gaswarmtepomp
Gas heat pump

Figure 18 Recommended positioning of surface heating in a heat


pump system. Source: TNO

Figure 20 Hydraulic separation by means of a buffer. Source: TNO

Gas heat pump


Gaswarmtepomp

Figure 19 Recommended positioning of a mixed distribution system.


Source: TNO

Gaswarmtepomp
Gas
heat pump

Figure 21 Minimum flow guaranteed by the heat pump due to a


distribution system that cannot be turned off in the
regulated room. Source: TNO

81

Gas Heat Pumps

The minimum distance depends, for instance, on:


The thickness of the water-bearing layer;
The size and direction of the groundwater flow;
The volume flow of the groundwater extraction;
The impermeability or porosity of the water-bearing layer.
An average minimum of 12 metres for every m3/h extraction
should be calculated for the distance between the extraction
well and the injection well. This is only an indication. An expert
must calculate the correct distance based on local measurements.
The handbook of the Nederlandse Vereniging voor Ondergrondse
Energieopslag (NVOE / Dutch Association for Underground Energy
Storage) provides a good basis for the design and realisation of hot
and cold storage systems.
The quality of the groundwater is another important factor in
the type of heat source. Should the groundwater not meet the
heat pumps quality requirement, an intermedium could provide
a solution. However, an intermedium increases the installations
complexity, size and costs and should therefore be avoided if at
all possible. An intermedium also negatively affects the efficiency
of the heat pump. The choice for another make or type of heat
pump might be a better solution in this case.

Recommendations
Select a heat pump that is geared and guaranteed to work on
the quality of the available groundwater.
Ensure the extraction and injection wells are far enough apart.
Have an expert design and realise the source system.

Ambient air as a heat source


Ambient air is becoming more and more popular as a heat
source for gas heat pumps, partly because of the high costs and
occasionally disappointing medium temperatures of groundcoupled heat exchangers. Ambient air as a heat source hardly
complicates the design of the installation but the sound level
of the ventilators requires attention during the design process.
A facility preventing frost from collecting on the air cooler
(evaporator) is usually integrated into the heat pump. However,
the designer must understand how this device works and how it
affects the heat supply.

82

Ground as a heat source: vertical ground-coupled heat exchangers


Many vertical ground-coupled heat exchangers have been installed in the Netherlands recently, as an integral part of the structure (for example in pilings). The rule of thumb for maximum heat
extraction is 15 to 40 watts per depth of 1 metre.
The exact depth depends on:
The lowest permissible medium temperature, both from
a technical point of view (for example, to keep the ground
from freezing) and for the purpose of optimising the energetic
performances;
The annual extraction pattern, in which both the peak
capacity (in kW) and the extracted heat quantity per year
(kWh/yr) are important;
The distance between the ground-coupled heat exchangers;
The extent to which the ground is regenerated (actively or
otherwise);
The groundwater level;
The volume and direction of the flow of the groundwater;
The composition of the ground.
ISSO publication 73 Ontwerp en uitvoering van verticale
bodemwarmtewisselaars (Design and implementation of vertical ground-coupled heat exchangers) provides instructions
for designing and realising this type of heat exchanger. It is
worth noting that many ground-coupled heat exchangers
are designed to keep the ground around the exchanger from
freezing permanently (the so-called permafrost criterion). As
a result, designers settle for a heat source temperature whose
yearly average differs only slightly from the temperature of
an ambient air source. It is advisable to check both before and
after installation that the ground-coupled heat exchanger is
leak-proof. Verifying in advance may seem exaggerated but
leakages can occur in compound probes that are difficult or
impossible to repair later on in the process. The finish of the
bore holes is also vital to the performance of the heat exchanger.
When designing the ground-coupled heat exchanger it may
not be assumed that a double U-tube configuration (figure 22) can
extract twice as much heat from the ground as a single U-tube.
The required pump capacity must be taken into account when
designing the ground-coupled heat system. Also bear in mind
the amount of noise the system produces and the absorbed

Chapter 4 | Design aspects and use in buildings

power of the source pump; take sound-proofing measures where


necessary.

Recommendations
Do not scrimp on the length of the vertical ground-coupled heat
exchanger, especially when there are uncertainties, for instance
as regards the geohydrological data. Use calculation programs
that are sufficiently precise in calculating the operating hours
profile of the heat pump.
Take into account the required pump capacity when designing
the ground-coupled heat system. Also bear in mind the amount
of noise the system produces and the absorbed power of the
source pump; take sound-proofing measures if necessary.

Ground as a heat source: horizontal systems


A horizontal ground-coupled heat exchanger can be considered
when enough free surface area is available. A single pipe is laid
in the ground in one or more sections. The peak capacity of a
system with a horizontal ground-coupled heat exchanger is (per
metre of single pipe) considerably lower than that of a vertical
system (per bore hole meter). The peak capacity depends on the
same parameters, but the dependence is different than that of
vertical systems. The following positioning can be provided as a
guideline:
Depth 1.5 to 2 metres, preferably below groundwater level.
Minimum distance of 1 metre between pipes.

Cooling and top cooling


Heat pump systems with a groundwater or a ground-coupled
heat exchanger as a source can also provide limited cooling at
little extra cost. This is called free cooling and consumes only a
low amount of energy because it only needs a circulation pump.
This addition turns a heating installation into a comfort installation. Particular attention must be paid to preventing condensation on surfaces such as floors, walls or radiators, used for
transferring cool temperatures. A mixing control keeps the supply
temperature during cooling operation from dropping below
approximately 14 C. The usual principles apply when cooling is
realised by means of an air-conditioning unit. If the heat pump is
designed with a thermal source or a groundwater source cooling
in summer boils down to a restricted form of regeneration. This
increases the systems performance during the heating season.

4.7.4 Integrating a gas heat pump


In practice, unfamiliarity with gas heat pumps creates the impression
that their technology is complex. However, in principle, systems
with gas heat pumps are no more difficult to design and to realise
than systems with a conventional boiler combined with an
air-conditioner or a cold-water machine. The reliability and the
life span of gas heat pumps are similar to complex conventional
systems. With the support of gas heat pump suppliers, professional
consultants and fitters realise excellent heat pump systems with a
lower total cost of ownership than that of conventional systems.

Integration into a network


In the old city centres in the Netherlands, where conservation is a
major objective, electric heat pumps are often difficult to implement due to limited electrical grid capacity. Gas heat pumps are
an attractive alternative in these situations. Most existing buildings have gas connections and the gas network has more than
enough capacity, even in the city centres. The amount of electrical
power that gas heat pumps use (for ventilators, pumps and controls) remains largely within the capacity of an electricity group
of 16 amps. Furthermore, gas heat pumps by definition require a
smaller source than their electric counterpart. Conservation with
gas heat pumps is an attractive option also for new-construction
projects in city centres.

Return

Ground level

Supply

Figure 22 Ground-coupled heat exchanger with double U-tube.

83

Gas Heat Pumps

4.7.5 User aspects


Heat pumps in the public and commercial building sectors are
generally a part of a building management system (BMS). These
systems are becoming increasingly more complex and experiences with them differ greatly, often because completion was not
carried out in sufficient detail. The design is generally in order
as is its realisation, but little attention is given to completion.
Incorrect adjustments, imperfections in the control strategy,
incorrect set points and minor deviations from design therefore
often remain unnoticed. On the other hand, properly conducted
independent completion checks bring these deviations to light.
Completion checks like these (functional performance tests)
are still not commonplace in the Netherlands. Proper completion
checks are based on an unambiguous and transparent protocol
that has been agreed by all parties concerned. According to this
protocol the performances are unambiguously recorded and
tested against specifications. Components that are subject to
testing include:
Volume flows and adjustment
Capacities
Energetic performances of the system
The functioning of the control
To test the adjustments the installation must be measured over
a period of time.
It is advisable that an independent party does the completion
check. Effective maintenance is possible when the installation functions properly and completion is carried out correctly.
Management and maintenance should not only be considered as
an expense, but also as an opportunity to guarantee trouble-free
operation and to keep operational costs (including energy costs)
as low as possible.

84

Chapter 4 | Design aspects and use in buildings

85

Chapter 5 | Heat pump systems and components

Chapter 5

Heat pump systems


and components
This chapter provides an overview of the gas heat pumps currently available on the market and
focuses strongly on the technology. Heat pumps containing a gas engine and a compressor
are discussed first, followed by heat pumps based on the sorption principle. The final category
pertains to absorption and adsorption heat pumps. Detailed specifications of the heat pumps
are provided and possibilities for optimising efficiencies are explained as well.

5.1 Efficiencies
The efficiency of gas-fired heat pumps is defined in chapters 3
and 4. In principle, the efficiency of a gas appliance can never
exceed 100% of higher heating value as useful energy cannot be
created from nothing. Energy (in the form of heat) can, however,
be pumped and that is exactly what heat pumps do. Heat pumps
use energy to increase the temperature of a large amount of heat
(from the environment) to a higher level so as to turn it into useful heat.
For a clear understanding, the efficiency of heat pumps is compared
with that of a very well known gas appliance: the condensing
HE boiler. While the HE boiler condenses vapour contained in
flue gases, it is able to exploit most of the heat released upon
the combustion of natural gas. In theory, the highest feasible

efficiency that an appliance running on Groningen quality natural


gas can achieve is nearly 111% of lower heating value. Figure 1
shows the development of the efficiency of a condensing HE
boiler as a function of the flue gas temperature. At atmospheric
pressure, the vapour in the flue gases starts to condense at
a temperature of 56 C. Because most HE boilers work with
excess air, the condensation temperature is approximately
53 C. The boiler uses the heat from the condensing vapour; as
a result, its efficiency increases rapidly at temperatures below
53 C (the blue section of the graph in figure 1). The most efficient condensing HE boilers at this point in time achieve an efficiency of around 109% of lower heating value, in part load
(30% of the nominal capacity), at a water return temperature of
30 C and a supply temperature of 36 C (excluding the electric
auxiliary energy for pump, ventilator and control). There is little

87

Gas Heat Pumps

difference between this efficiency and the hypothetical maximum, which can only be improved through major modifications
to the current HE boilers.
The term efficiency cannot be applied univocally to all heat
pumps, as only some of the energy that heat pumps use is a purchased form of energy (natural gas or electricity). The remainder
Type of heat pump

COP

PER

Gas engine and compressor

1.2 2.4

1.2 2.4

Absorption

1.3 1.8

1.3 1.8

Adsorption

1.2 1.4

1.2 1.4

Electrical

3.0 5.0

1.4 2.2

Table 1 Typical COP and PER values of various heat pumps for heating. Source: KGT
Type of heat pump

COP

PER

Gas engine and compressor

1.0 1.2

1.0 1.2

Absorption

0.2 0.7

0.2 0.7

Adsorption

0.2 0.4

0.2 0.4

Electrical

2.5 4.0

1.1 1.6

is ambient heat, which is freely available in sufficient quantities.


Heat pumps withdraw this low temperature heat from surface
water or from the ground (by means of a ground-coupled heat
exchanger) or from the air, for instance. Therefore, the efficiency
of heat pumps is stated in terms of COP, which indicates how
many units of useful energy the device provides on the basis
of one unit of purchased energy. The definition and the system
limits of the COP are provided in section 4.2.
The Primary Energy Ratio (PER) is useful data for comparing heat
pumps. The COP is converted in the PER into an amount of primary energy, as described in section 4.2. Tables 1 and 2 provide
typical values for the COP and the PER for the various heat pumps
in heating and cooling operation. The conditions are similar for
all heat pumps in the tables.
Heat pumps can deliver heat at a maximum temperature of
approximately 55 C. In general, heat pumps perform better at
lower temperatures. Figure 2 shows how the PER of various heat
pumps and one HE boiler depends on the transfer temperature.
The efficiencies are determined on the basis of the Carnot efficiency of the relevant heat pump.

Table 2 Typical COP and PER values of various heat pumps for
cooling. Source: KGT

1.15

GEHP improved
GEHP existing

2.5

GAHP
EHP

1.05

HE boiler

PER [-]

Efficiency of lower heating value [-]

1.10

1.00

HE condensing
boiler
1.5

0.95
1
0.90

0.5

0.85

0.80

0
0

50

100

150

200

250

Flue gas temperature [C]

Figure 1 Theoretically feasible efficiency of a condensing HE boiler


as a function of the flue gas temperature. Source: KGT

88

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

90

100

Transfer temperature [C]

Figure 2 Calculated Primary Energy Ratio (PER) for various devices as


a function of the transfer temperature. The HE boiler is the
same as the one in figure 1. Source: KGT

Chapter 5 | Heat pump systems and components

The efficiency of a gas engine mechanical is set at 30% and the


efficiency of a central generation power plant is set at 42% of lower
heating value or 39% of higher heating value, in accordance
with the current EPN. The Carnot efficiencies are hypothetical
values (see section 3.1) that cannot be achieved in practice. To
obtain actual efficiencies, the calculated efficiencies are multiplied by a factor 0.6 for the gas engine heat pump and by a factor
0.58 for the absorption pump. This factor is based on practical
experience.
Figure 2 compares the efficiencies of the various devices in equal
conditions. The gas engine heat pump still has room for improvement, the effect of which is included in the graph as a separate
curve. The calculations are based on a source temperature of 0 C
and, for the gas absorption heat pump, a generator temperature
of 150 C.
As shown in the graph, the PER of existing gas engine heat pumps,
gas absorption pumps and electric heat pumps is approximately
1.6 at a transfer temperature of 45 C. The PER of an improved
gas engine heat pump is almost 2 at 45 C. The improved
design of the gas engine heat pump scores better at all transfer
temperatures than all other devices and the higher the transfer
temperature the greater the difference is.
The graph includes an condensing HE boiler as a reference. The
jump in efficiency at lower temperatures (the blue section of the
graph for the HE boiler) as a result of condensation of vapour
has also been included for the gas engine heat pumps and gas
sorption heat pumps but the effect cannot be seen in the graph.
The graph shows that a small difference in transfer temperature
can make a big difference in the PER of the device. The lower the
transfer temperature, the better the efficiency is.
Various heat pumps can be compared on the basis of their
COP values and PER values. Because the temperature conditions
influence the COP and PER, the international norms and standards
dictate that these values are determined at the same temperature
conditions. Table 3 is an example taken from European standard
EN12309 for gas-fired climate controls and gas heat pumps. The
letters stand for the media used and the figures stand for the
(supply) temperature. The heat source is stated before the slash,

Test condition

T1

T2

T3

T4

Air/
water

With defrost
cycle

A7(6)/W50

A2(1.5)/W35

A15(12)/
W50

A-7(-8)/
W50

Without
defrost cycle

A7(6)/W50

A15(12)/W50 A7(6)/W35

Ventilation air/water

A20(12)/W50 A20(12)/W35

Water/water

W10/W50

W10/W35

W15/W50

Brine/water

B0/W50

B0/W35

B-5/W50

With defrost
cycle

A7(6)/
W20(12)

A2(1,5)/
A20(12)

A-7(-8)/
A20(12)

Without
defrost cycle

A7(6)/
W20(12)

A15(12)/
A20(12)

Ventilation/recirculation air

A20(12)/
A20(12)

Ventilation/fresh air

A7(6)/
W20(12)

Ambient
air or
recirculation
air

Water/recirculation air

W10/A20(12) W15/A20(12)

Brine/recirculation air

B0/A20(12)

Closed-loop water source

W20/A20(12)

Table 3

B-5/A20(12)

Temperature conditions for determining the COP of gas heat


pumps according to EN12309.

the supply medium is stated after the slash. As an example, condition A7(6)/W50 means that the temperature of the heat source
(air) is 7 C (A7), whilst the (supply) temperature of the transfer
medium (water) is 50 C (W50). Antifreeze, a mixture of water
and glycol, is also used in addition to air and water. This mixture
is called brine and abbreviated to B in the table. The temperature
condition for air still comprises two temperatures: the dry-bulb
temperature and the wet-bulb temperature. The wet-bulb temperature is shown between brackets.

5.2 Gas engine heat pumps


Gas engine heat pumps are used to heat and cool spaces. They
can heat and cool several rooms at the same time, which is
good for efficiency reasons because both the heat and the cold
are applied usefully. Gas engine heat pumps are also used to
supply hot water. The heat from the refrigerant can be used for
this purpose, but the higher engine cooling and exhaust gas
temperatures are more suitable although they then require
additional heat exchangers. The temperature of the hot water may
not drop below a certain minimum temperature in connection
with health hazards (for example as a result of legionella
contamination). It may therefore be necessary to reheat the
hot water by means of an condensing HE boiler, for instance.

89

Gas Heat Pumps

Incidentally, an additional boiler is applied in many systems,


both for the production of hot water and for providing sufficient
heating capacity during peak demand.

5.2.1 System overview


Gas engine heat pumps comprise a gas engine, heat exchangers
(evaporator and condenser), an expansion valve and a compressor.
Figure 3 illustrates a complete system. Section 3.2.1 has already
described how it works.
The system design illustrated in figure 3 contains three heat
exchangers in addition to the condenser and the evaporator.
These heat exchangers heat the central-heating water with heat
from the engine or the flue gases. When positioning the various
heat exchangers in the system, the temperature levels of the various heat flows were taken into account.
Some of the energy in the flue gases is released when the
vapour in the flue gases condenses. The colder the return
water of the central heating, the more vapour in the flue gases
is able to condense.

The heat from the refrigerant is transferred in the condenser


to the central-heating water at temperatures of up to approximately 55 C.
After the condenser, the heat exchanger that cools the engine
also transfers its heat to the central-heating water. The temperature level of the engine cooling is around 85 C.
The highest temperature level is in the heat exchanger for the
flue gases. The temperature of the flue gases upon leaving the
engine is 500 C to 600 C.
Because of the three additional heat exchangers next to the
condenser, optimum use can be made of the heat that is
available at several temperature levels. Figure 4 contains a
Sankey diagram of the heat flows of a gas engine heat pump.
When the evaporator uses air as a heat source, the evaporator
can be covered in white frost in low outdoor temperatures
with high atmospheric humidity. In time, the white frost will
obstruct the transfer of heat. The evaporator must therefore
be heated until no more white frost is left. This can be done
by briefly switching the heat pump to cooling operation
upon which the evaporator works as a condenser and thaws

Radiators
Centralheating
pump

Heat exchanger
engine cooling Condenser

Gas engine

Primary
energy
100%

Heat exchanger
condensing
combustion gases

Heat
exchanger
combustion
gases
Compressor

Gas engine
efficiency 30%

Expansion
valve

Flue gas loss 30%

30%

Evaporator
Source 90%

Mechanically driven
heat pump
COP = 4

Cooling
water 40%
120%

Delivery
160%

Ambient air

Figure 3 Diagram of an optimised air-water gas engine heat


pump. Source: KGT

90

Figure 4 Sankey diagram of an existing gas engine heat pump.



Source: TNO

Chapter 5 | Heat pump systems and components

the ice. The hot gas from the compressor can also be conducted
directly to the outdoor heat exchanger to thaw the heat exchanger.
In the event of an open water source the evaporator temperature
should not drop below freezing. As a rule, antifreeze is added in
the event of a closed source.

Japanese gas engine heat pumps


The heat pump system shown in figure 5 is a popular design
in Japan, where it was developed as an alternative for electric
heat pumps. Gas heat pumps are attractive in Japan because
of capacity problems on the electricity grid; peak demand in
summer can be so high that the likelihood of power failures
increases. Today, more than 600,000 gas engine heat pumps
have been installed in Japan. The original Japanese design is an
air-air system that basically can be installed in the Netherlands
as well. Nevertheless, the Dutch situation differs from the
Japanese. The first difference is the climate. It is warmer and
more humid in Japan than in the Netherlands, so space cooling
is the main function of the gas heat pump system in figure 5.
The system has not been optimised for heating which would
take preference over cooling in the Netherlands.

Natural gas
Engine heat

Gas engine

Compressor
Evaporator

Ambient
and/or
ventilation air

Condenser
Heat
delivery

Expansion valve

Figure 5 Diagram of a Japanese gas engine heat pump. Source: KGT

The second difference is the manner in which heat and cold


are transferred. The Japanese design does not include the three
additional heat exchangers as contained in figure 3 because
there are no hot water central-heating systems in Japan. This
can also be concluded from figure 5, which shows only the
evaporator and the condenser. So there are major differences
between the Dutch and Japanese situations. The Japanese gas
engine heat pumps are nevertheless interesting for the Dutch
market, especially because the technology is tried and tested.
Furthermore, their efficiency can be improved by means of
some design modifications, which are discussed later in this
chapter.
There are three means for distributing heat and cold to the
desired space:
Refrigerant;
Central-heating water;
Air.
The pipe diameter for the distribution system depends on the
distribution means. Relatively thin pipes can be used for refrigerant. The refrigerant is conducted to the heat exchanger in the
relevant room upon which the heat exchanger heats or cools the
air in that room. This system is seldom used in Dutch homes; it is
applied more often in the public and commercial building sectors
as a VRF system.
Water is the most popular distribution means in the Netherlands,
both in homes and in the public and commercial sectors.
Consequently, gas engine heat pumps must be able to heat or
cool central-heating water for them to be widely suitable for
Dutch circumstances. This requires a few modifications to their
current design (by adding a hydro module). Water is heated or
cooled in the hydro module and then distributed to the relevant
space where the distribution system (radiators) heats or cools
the space. Radiators are generally only used to heat, but
they are often good for cooling as well (minor modifications may
need to be made). The diameter of the pipes used in water
distribution systems is larger than the diameter of refrigerant
pipes.
The largest pipe diameters are found in air distribution systems;
they can even be classified as ducts. Air is cooled or heated in

91

Gas Heat Pumps

the heat pump and then conducted to the relevant spaces. Rarely
are climate systems installed in Dutch homes based on air. Air
systems are more popular in public and commercial buildings,
usually in combination with a ventilation system.
Japanese gas engine heat pumps also have an attribute that
keeps vapour from freezing on the surface of the evaporator in
low outdoor temperatures. In the design in figure 5 the engine
heat that is withdrawn to cool the engine flows to the evaporator, providing enough heat to vaporise the refrigerant even in
low outdoor temperatures (for example -20 C).
For outdoor temperatures below 0 C the COP equates to
approximately one. Designers can increase the efficiency of the
heat pump by adding additional heat exchangers that transfer
the engine heat at high temperature to the central-heating water,
as shown in figure 3.
As already mentioned, gas engine heat pumps contain a gas engine,
heat exchangers, an expansion valve and a compressor. These
main components are discussed in the following paragraphs.

5.2.2 Gas engines


The gas engines in heat pumps are Otto engines. Smaller
gas engines are derived from fork-lift truck engines and ship
engines. The larger gas engines (> 60 kWshaft power) are
generally derived from industrial engines designed for longevity
and low speeds. A major overhaul is generally required every
20,000 to 30,000 operating hours. The engines are designed
so that all components that are liable to wear can be replaced.
Heat pump engines have longer life spans than car engines, for
instance, because they suffer few starts and stops, they run at
lower speeds and they function for a lengthy period of time at
operating temperature.

Emissions
Gas engines fall under the Besluit emissie-eisen stookinstallaties
(BEES) (Decree on Emission Standards for Burners). The upper
limit for the emission of NOx by gas engines is set at 140 g/GJ
multiplied by one-thirtieth of the engines efficiency (in
percentages). The standard for a shaft power of 50 kW or less
is 800 g/GJ multiplied by one-thirtieth of the engines efficiency.
Combustion processes are `stoichiometric' when the amount of

92

supplied air is precisely enough to completely burn a certain


amount of fuel. There is no excess air, which is indicated by
= 1. To meet emission requirements most gas engines operate
with excess air ( > 1). Excess air achieves lower combustion
temperatures and thus leads to lower NOx emissions. Figure 6
shows the development of the various emissions and the efficiency as a function of excess air. Stoichiometric gas engines
( = 1) are high specific power engines. Excess air reduces
their power.
Another method for meeting emission requirements is to use a
three-way catalyst, similar to those in cars, which reduces NOx to
N2 and CO and converts unburned hydrocarbons into CO2 and
H2O. The catalyst needs a slight shortage of air ( 0.99) to
work properly, in which case NOx is reduced by more than 95%.
The air factor is regulated by a lambda sensor. This sensor can
wear out over time, as a result of which the gas engine will start
to run increasingly richer. This can be prevented by adjusting the
set point at regular intervals (every hour). Some control systems
do this automatically. The life span of a sensor is generally
between 5,000 and 6,000 hours.
Three-way catalysts are susceptible to misfiring and to spark
plugs malfunctioning. This enables unburned methane to enter
the catalyst, which then overheats. A temperature safety device
in the flue gas duct just behind the catalyst or a spark plug
ignition control can prevent this.

Maintenance
Gas engines require maintenance just like any other combustion engine. Users can conclude a maintenance contract with
the supplier. Regular visual inspection (for instance, of leaks
and wear or ageing of the drive belts and hose connections) is
advisable for large installations or installations with old engines.
Maintenance intervals vary per gas engine. Maintenance
should be carried out every 1,000 to 1,500 operating hours.
Maintenance includes:
Adjusting the valves;
Inspecting the spark plugs (and replacing if necessary);
Changing the oil and air filter;
Inspecting the fuel/air ratio;
Measuring the compression on all cylinders;
Cleaning the crankcase ventilator.

Chapter 5 | Heat pump systems and components

The current generation of gas engines requires considerably


less maintenance. They are used more and more in gas engine
heat pump installations. The maintenance intervals have been
extended to 10,000 operating hours for replacing the oil filter,
spark plugs and V belt and for checking the valves, and to
30,000 operating hours for changing the oil. These engines
have a larger oil-collecting content, a modified ignition and
special spark plugs, among other things. Synthetic oil is used to
lubricate the engines. The cylinder heads of some types of gas
engines must be replaced every 30,000 operating hours. Fast
running engines are subject to a major overhaul every 30,000 to
35,000 operating hours and slow running engines every 25,000
operating hours.

Starting up
The engines are kept from starting and stopping too frequently
and unnecessarily by controlling the capacity of the gas engine
heat pumps. Batteries can be used to start the engine but they
can malfunction or die. Reliability increases if the start engine
uses electricity from the grid.

Shaft efficiency

gas engines generally have a higher efficiency. Figure 7 provides


an overview of engine efficiencies as a function of the capacity input. The shaft efficiency depends strongly on the engine
load. Gas engines run most efficiently at full load. At half load
their efficiency can drop by eight percentage points. When
combining the usefully applied shaft power and the useful
heat, also referred to as total efficiency, gas engines have an
efficiency of 90% to 100% (of lower heating value). Losses
occur as emissions of unburned gas (1% to 4%), heat losses
through the emission of combustion gases (3% to 10%) and
radiation and convection losses (3% to 5%). For smaller engines,
the proportion of unburned gas in the emissions (CH4 emission
in the exhaust gases) is around 1%. For larger gas engines with
a precombustion chamber this can increase to 4%. In full load,
the useful engine heat and the flue gas heat are approximately
the same.
The COP of gas engine driven heat pumps is limited if the
heat pumps use only the engines mechanical energy. With
a few modifications, as shown in figure 3, the COP can be
improved substantially. These modifications are discussed in
section 5.2.6.

The maximum shaft efficiency varies per brand, type and power.
The full load efficiency varies between 25% and 38%. Larger
45

Misfiring
Detonation (knocking)

16

12
11

14

BMEP

38
36

CxHy

34
NOx

32
CO

30

Emissions [g/kWh]

BMEP [bar]

40

10

Electrical efficiency (%)

10
42

12

8
7
6
5
4
3
2

Efficiency (mechanical energy) [%]

40
18

35
30
25
20
15
10
5

1
4
0.6

0.8

1.0

1.2

1.4

1.6

1.8

2.0

2.2

Excess
air ()

Figure 6 Engine characteristics and emissions as a function of the air


factor (BMEP is the pressure in the gas engine cylinders).

0
0

200

400

600

800

1,000

1,200

Power input [kW]

Figure 7 Efficiency of combustion engines (shaft power) as a function


of the (gas) input capacity. Source: KGT

Source: KGT

93

Gas Heat Pumps

Capacity control
The capacity control of a gas engine heat pump greatly influences
its efficiency. The efficiency of the gas engine is high when the
engine is required to provide a high torque. The gas consumption
of a gas engine is plotted against the torque in figure 9. The
power of the heat pump is controlled by means of speed control. The power increases or decreases along with the number
of revolutions, whilst the torque remains the same. Japanese gas
engine heat pumps use several small belt-driven scroll compressors. The capacity of gas engine heat pumps is not only regulated
by means of the number of revolutions of the engine, but also by
activating and deactivating the individual compressors by means
of magnetic couplings. Figure 11 provides the heat factor of a
gas heat pump as a function of the heating capacity and the
capacity of the compressor, illustrating the impact of activating
and deactivating.

5.2.3 Compressors
The compressor is a key component in mechanical heat pump
systems (gas engine heat pumps). The efficiency of the compressor largely determines the COP of the heat pump. Several popular
compressors are discussed below. Heat pumps have the potential
risk of refrigerant leaking at the spot where the compressor drive
enters the housing. Electric heat pumps can house the compressor and the electric drive in one housing, consequently requiring
only one opening for the power supply. This does not apply to
gas engine heat pumps as their rotating shaft must always pass
through the compressor housing.

valves of larger reciprocating compressors can be fitted with


valve lifters, eliminating one or more cylinders. This part load
control, however, has a negative impact on the efficiency of
the compressor.

Rotary vane compressors


Rotary vane compressors (also referred to as rotary compressors) are often used in small-capacity gas heat pumps. Figure
13 on page 97 shows the operating principle of this compressor, which comprises an eccentric rotating rotor with vanes.
Centrifugal force pushes the vanes outward against the compressor casing, creating a chamber of which the volume varies
under the influence of the rotors rotation. This compresses the
gas in the chamber.
Rotary vane compressors are generally more compact than
reciprocating compressors. They are also quieter and can
achieve higher compression ratios. However, rotary vane compressors are more susceptible to malfunctions and require
meticulous maintenance. The rotaries need to be oiled to
operate smoothly and to achieve a high efficiency. The largest
compressors boast a maximum volume flow of approximately
15,000 m3/hour.

Reciprocating compressors
Reciprocating compressors (figure 8) are very suitable for
realising large compression ratios. The volume flows for
capacities ranging between 1 kW and less up to 16 MW and
higher are between 1 m3/hour and 50,000 m3/hour. Oil is the
predominant lubricant for reciprocating compressors. The
gaseous refrigerant in reciprocating compressors is ingested
into a cylinder on the downstroke of the piston. The intake
valve closes on the upstroke, compressing the gas. When the
pressure level is high enough, the exhaust valve opens and
the compressed gas in the pipe can flow into the condenser. The
intake valve and the exhaust valve are usually closed by steel
springs. The valve opens at a certain differential pressure. The

94

Figure 8

Cross section of a reciprocating compressor. Source: GEA Grasso

Chapter 5 | Heat pump systems and components

40

70

Engine heat

30
50

Percentage of Carnot

Percentage of the gas capacity

60

Combustion heat
20

10

40

30

20

4 Cylinders
3 Cylinders
10

2 Cylinders
1 Cylinder

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

90

100

950

1,050

1,150

Percentage of the maximum torque (Nmax = 83.5 Nm)

Engine shaft moment of force/torque (Nm)

80

40

1,500 rev/min
2,000 rev/min
2,500 rev/min
0
20

30

40

50

60

70

80

Gas consumption [kW]

Figure 10 Gas consumption in relation to the torque of the gas engine.

Source: KGT

1,350

1,450

1,550

Figure 11 Effect of speed and capacity control on the Carnot


efficiency. Source: KGT

Heat production factor of the installation (% upper heating value)

Figure 9 Percentage of engine heat and combustion heat in relation


to the delivered torque. Source: KGT

10

1,250

Number of revolutions (rev/min)

275

3- 4 Cylinders
2 Cylinders on / off

2 - 3 Cylinders

250

1 - 2 Cylinders
225

1 Cylinder on / off

200

Engine shaft efficiency = 30


Engine heat efficiency = 55
175
0

25

50

75

100

125

150

175

200

225

250

275

Heating power [kW]

Figure 12 The heat factor of a gas engine heat pump as a function of


the heating capacity and the capacity of the compressor.
Source: KGT

95

Gas Heat Pumps

Scroll compressors

Selection criteria

Refrigeration engineering makes large-scale use of scroll compressors (also called spiral compressors), particularly for smaller
capacities. Scroll compressors are attractive due to their small
number of moving parts, their low noise level and low vibration.
Scroll compressors are generally more efficient in comparison
with reciprocating compressors. The compression ratios they can
achieve are in the same order as those of reciprocating compressors. The higher the compression ratios, the less efficient scroll
compressors are.

Large capacity gas heat pump systems are generally composed


of separate modules, in which case the most suitable compressor type depends on several variables. The demanded capacity
as well as the required compression ratio and control range are
important in this respect. The way the compressor is controlled
influences the compressors efficiency in part load. Table 4 provides some indicators for various types of compressors.

The compressor comprises a spiral that hooks into a stationary


counter spiral (figure 14). The displacing movement of the
moving spiral creates cavities between the two spirals forcing the
refrigerant vapour to the centre of the two spirals, compressing
the vapour. Scroll compressors have only one moving spiral and
no valves. This means that they are less susceptible to wear and
thus highly reliable.

Category
Displacement compressors
Roots (Rolling piston compressors)
Screw compressors
Rotary vane compressors
Reciprocating compressors
Scroll compressors

Volume flow Pressure ratio Isentropic


(per stage)
efficiency
[m3/h]
100 60,000
500 35,000
10 15,000
100 3,000
10 60

1 1.1
26
1 13
46
1 10

40 65%
60 80%
40 60%
50 67%
40 60%

Table 4 Indicators for several types of compressors. Source: KGT

5.2.4 Expansion valves

Screw compressors have largely superseded reciprocating


compressors in medium capacity heat pumps (> 500 kW). Figure
16 depicts a screw compressor, which is also referred to as
a mono screw. Screw compressors can reach a higher compression ratio than reciprocating compressors. As they have
fewer moving parts they are better equipped to function
under heavy and prolonged loads. Screw compressors have
a fixed volume ratio depending on their construction and
geometry. When running at one specific pressure ratio the
capacity of these compressors is high and their efficiency is relatively low.

Expansion valves (also referred to as thermal expansion valves)


are actually a constriction in the refrigerant pipe which causes
the pressure to drop. The purpose of an expansion valve is
to control the supply of refrigerant to the evaporator. It
determines the superheating of the refrigerant (see text
box on page 100). The expansion valve is placed between the
condenser (upstream) and the evaporator, as shown in figure
3. Expansion valves require proper tuning so as not to inject
too much refrigerant, causing insufficient superheating, with
the risk of slugging in the compressor. If the expansion valve
is too restrictive it does not let enough refrigerant through,
resulting in excessive superheating which reduces the evaporator temperature.

Twin screw compressors (figure 15) have two rotors (with interlocking spiral teeth). One or two rotors are driven. The gas is trapped between the rotor lobes and the rotating rotors increasingly
reduce the volume, thus increasing the pressure. A variant is the
screw compressor with a single rotor. A toothed disk on both
sides of the screw rotor takes over the function of the second
rotor. All screw compressors are oiled. Oil seals better, lubricates and discharges heat. The internal geometry of some screw
compressors is adjusted to the required pressure ratio between
evaporator and condenser.

Expansion valves are available in two different models: thermostatic (mechanical) and electronic. Electronic expansion valves
are mainly used in larger systems. The valve position is tuned with
a stepper motor (or step motor), enabling the electronic valve
to adjust the flow of refrigerant more accurately to changing
conditions. This has a favourable impact on the efficiency of the
heat pump system. Electronic expansion valves can usually enable
two-way flows, whereas thermostatic expansion valves enable
flow in one direction only. Electronic expansion valves also have
a more extensive regulating range.

Screw compressors

96

Chapter 5 | Heat pump systems and components

Vapour in

Vapour/liquid out

Figure 13 Diagram of a rotary vane compressor.

Source: KGT

Figure 15 Screws in a Howden screw compressor (left) plus exploded


view (right). Source: KGT/GEA Grasso

Figure 14 Example of a scroll or spiral compressor. Source: KGT

Figure 16 Mono screw compressor, a special version of a screw


compressor. Source: KGT

97

Gas Heat Pumps

Thermostatic expansion valves


Figure 18 contains a cross-section of a thermostatic expansion
valve comprising a thermal element (1) that is separated from
the valve housing by means of a membrane. The element is
connected via a capillary tube with sensor (2), a valve seat (3) and
a spring (4). A pressure compensation connection (5) counter-
balances the pressure drop caused by the evaporator. This
makes it possible to tune or adjust the superheating of the
refrigerant more accurately to changing conditions. The sensor (2) is
situated behind the evaporator and feeds the temperature of the
refrigerant behind the evaporator back to the expansion valve.
On the basis of this signal the valve tunes to a certain position.
When the position of the expansion valve is determined only by
the temperature behind the evaporator, there is a chance that too
much refrigerant is passed through to the evaporator. Because
of the drop in pressure caused by the evaporator, the refrigerant
already overheats at a lower temperature. The pressure compensation counterbalances this effect and ensures the superheating
is constant at various loads.
Thermostatic expansion valves work on the basis of three pressures,
as shown in figure 18.
P1, the sensor pressure on top of the membrane; this opens the
valve.
P2, the evaporator pressure underneath the membrane; this closes
the valve.
P3, the spring pressure that also works underneath the membrane
and also closes the valve.
When the expansion valve regulates, the sensor pressure on one side
of the membrane and the evaporator pressure plus the spring pressure
on the opposite side of the membrane are in balance. The superheating
is adjusted by means of the spring.

Figure 17 depicts an electronic expansion valve. The valve has a


stepper motor inside the casing which is controlled from outside
the pipe. By sending an electric current through a coil a magnetic
field is generated in the stator. This magnetic field penetrates
the hermetically sealed casing and sets the stepper motor in
motion, upon which the obturator enlarges or reduces the nozzle
opening.

5.2.5 Heat exchangers


The essence of heat pumps is to move heat from one level to
another. Therefore, heat is exchanged between heat pump
systems and the environment. This is done by means of
exchangers which, depending on their function, are referred to
as evaporators or condensers.
The evaporator must be able to withdraw sufficient heat
from the heat source. If the heat source is air, large amounts
of air must be able to flow along the evaporator, because air
has a small heat capacity. Figure 22 (page 101) depicts an air
condenser.
In most distribution systems heat is exchanged between two
liquids in the condenser (the condensing refrigerant vapour
and central-heating water). Liquids have a higher specific
heat than gases and they are also better able to transfer heat.
Consequently, the condenser can be smaller than the evaporator. Figure 23 (page 103) contains an example of a plate heat
exchanger (on the left) and a diagram of the refrigerant flows
and water flows (on the right). The figure clearly shows that the
diameters of the openings for refrigerant and water differ.
Heat exchangers must be made of a material that matches the
choice of refrigerant. Some refrigerants are corrosive, so the heat
exchanger must be corrosion resistant. A popular material for
heat exchangers is stainless steel, which is processed into a heat
exchanger by means of brazing. The construction of a plate heat
exchanger is shown in figure 24 (page 103).

98

Chapter 5 | Heat pump systems and components

Rotor

Stator

Obturator
Intake

O-ring

Stator
Locking ring

Torsion spring

Stator

Figure 19 Electronic expansion valve. Source: KGT


Exhaust

Pressure compensation
pipe
Temperature sensor

Water

Figure 17 Cross section of an electronic expansion valve.


Source: KGT

Superheated vapour

P1

P2

Evaporation

P3

Water

Refrigeran

Superheating

Refrigerant
Out
C
Liquid

Refrigerant
In

Figure 18 Cross section of a thermostatic expansion valve with thermal element (1), capillary tube with sensor (2), valve seat
(3), spring (4) and pressure compensation connection (5).

Source: KGT

Liquid and vapour

Water
Drainage of lubricant
(if heavier than refrigerant)

Figure 20 Diagram of a (thermostatic) expansion valve with


pressure compensation and connections in a heat
pump system. Source: Alfa Laval

99

Gas Heat Pumps

Superheating
Superheating is the difference between the evaporation temperature
of the refrigerant and the actual temperature of the vapour coming
from the evaporator. The actual temperature is measured at the
sensor on the suction pipe. Figure 20 provides an example of a
(thermostatic) expansion valve in a heat pump. The expansion
valve uses superheating as an indicator for adjusting the amount
of refrigerant going into the evaporator.
There are two reasons for superheating the refrigerant:
To protect the compressor. Refrigerants need a certain pressure
and temperature to vaporise. Depending on the liquid-vapour
line of the relevant refrigerant a slight drop in pressure can
cause the refrigerant to partially return to its liquid form.
This can severely damage the compressor which is not made
to process liquids. Superheating keeps the refrigerant from
recondensing.
Better control of the refrigerant flow. When the refrigerant flow
is regulated under conditions close to the co-existence range
(in which the refrigerant can be both vapour and liquid), the
amount of refrigerant that enters the evaporator is difficult or
impossible to control as pressure and temperature are constant
in the co-existence range. By superheating the refrigerant,
pressure and temperature can change independently of each
other and the refrigerant can be controlled.
If the superheating temperature is set too low, the valve can
become unstable (this is also referred to as hunting) creating
the risk of fluid flowing to the compressor. If the superheating
temperature is set too high, it reduces the evaporator surface for
evaporating the incoming refrigerant. This means that a greater
difference in temperature is required between the evaporator
and the heat source. Higher superheating temperatures require
ingestion of larger vapour volumes, because of the lower vapour
density. Depending on the refrigerant that is used this can lead
to a high final temperature upon compression and to greater or
lesser capacity, depending on the specific heat of the refrigerant
vapour.

100

As an incidental consequence of superheating, higher temperatures


can be reached at the condenser outlet, as shown by a graph in
Figure 21. The energy in the refrigerant occurs in three different
forms: the enthalpy of the refrigerant, the enthalpy of evaporation
and the enthalpy of superheating. For most refrigerants the
largest enthalpy is of evaporation and the smallest is of superheating. Under normal operating conditions the cooling medium
(central-heating water) absorbs the heat of the refrigerant
and there is a slight difference between the lowest refrigerant
temperature and highest central-heating water temperature,
represented by line A. By reducing the flow of central-heating
water through the condenser the medium is able to absorb
more heat. Consequently, the temperature of the central-heating
water rises and, thanks to the superheating, even exceeds the
condensation temperature of the refrigerant. This is reflected by
lines B and C. Line C indicates that when the inlet temperature
of central-heating water is lower the outlet temperature can be
higher.

Undercooling
Undercooling is the difference between the condensation temperature and the temperature at which the condensation exits
the condenser. Undercooling is an important precondition for
achieving the highest COP and necessary to prevent vapour bubbles
in the refrigerant ahead of the expansion valve. Vapour bubbles
in the refrigerant significantly reduce the capacity of the expansion valve.

Chapter 5 | Heat pump systems and components

Condenser
A condenser is a heat exchanger in which superheated, gaseous
refrigerant condenses. The condenser discharges the refrigerants
condensation heat into air or water. The indoor heat
exchanger is the condenser when the heat pump is used for
heating. The heat is transferred to the central-heating water,
for instance, or directly into the air. When the heat pump is
used for cooling, the outdoor heat exchanger is the condenser
When the heat pump system is used for cooling purposes the
condenser must be able to discharge the heat absorbed by
the refrigerant. The greater the difference in temperature, the
better the heat transfer is between the condensing refrigerant
and the discharge medium (the ambient air or water, for
example). However, the greater the temperature difference the
lower the efficiency of a heat pump becomes and therefore an
economical and efficient optimum must be sought. Figure 25
(page 103) depicts two heat exchangers: one for transferring
heat between refrigerant and central-heating water and one for
transferring refrigerant to air.

C
Cooling

The temperature
buckles here

Undercooling

Condensing

A. Normal
B. Limit, low volume flow
C. Limit, low temperature

% Load

Figure 21 Temperature profiles in the condenser of the refrigerant


(purple line) and of the cooling medium (central-heating
water, blue lines). Source: Alfa Laval

Evaporator
In the evaporator, ambient heat converts the liquid refrigerant
into vapour. The type of evaporator depends on the purpose of
the heat pump. The type of heat source (air or water) influences the design of the evaporator. To prevent liquid refrigerant
from exiting the evaporator along with the vapour, most controls
superheat to 2 to 3 K upon exiting. Because the volume of
refrigerant vapour is much larger than that of refrigerant in liquid
form, approximately one-fourth of the cooling surface is needed
for superheating.
If the evaporation temperature is below 0 C, vapour in the air
can freeze onto the evaporator. If so, the heat transfer from heat
source to refrigerant suffers. The evaporator will eventually need
to be defrosted in order to continue functioning.

Intercooler
The intercooler is a heat exchanger enabling the exchange of
heat between the refrigerant flowing from the evaporator and
the condenser. Figure 26 contains a schematic diagram. The use
of an intercooler improves the heat transfer in the evaporator and
the condenser, because superheating and undercooling (whose

Figure 22 Example of an evaporator/condenser that exchanges heat


between refrigerant (in the pipes) and air.

Source: KGT

101

Gas Heat Pumps

Refrigerants
The condenser temperature of gas engine heat pumps is usually
between 25 C and 55 C. The temperature lift varies between
20 C and 45 C. The application limits are determined partly
by the characteristics of the refrigerant. However, if the correct
refrigerant is used the compressor determines the limits. Various
characteristics figure largely in the choice of refrigerant: the
strain on the environment, combustibility, toxicity, corrosiveness,
the levels for evaporation and condensation pressures, the
specific volume and the cost price.
As from the end of the 20th century substances that destroy
the ozone layer or strengthen the greenhouse effect are gradually being phased out. This has led to a shift in the composition
of many refrigerants. Halons (HCFCs) and chlorofluorocarbons
(CFCs) in particular present a problem. CFCs disintegrate in the
upper layers of the atmosphere under the influence of UV light,
whereupon the released halogen atoms act as a catalyst for the
reaction that converts ozone into oxygen. As a consequence, the
ozone concentration decreases and thus also the protection of
the earths surface against harmful UVB radiation.
The extent to which a substance is able to damage the ozone
layer is called the Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP). In principle,
the ODP of trichlorofluoromethane (R-11) has been set at 1 for
a period of 100 years. The ODP of CFCs is of the same order
and the ODP of substances containing bromine is between 5
and 15. Ideally, only refrigerants with zero ODP should be used.
Refrigerants currently used belong to the hydrofluorocarbons
group (HFCs) and their ODP varies between 0 and 0.2. This lower
ODP is mainly due to the shorter life span of HFCs in lower parts
of the atmosphere, keeping them from reaching higher layers.
The fact that no catalytic substances (chlorine, bromine) can be
released also contributes to their low ODP.
A GWP (Global Warming Potential) is attached to refrigerants in
addition to an ODP. The GWP indicates a substances greenhouse
effect in relation to carbon dioxide (CO2). By definition the GWP
of CO2 equals 1.
Popular refrigerants in the Netherlands are R410a and R134a
(both are HFCs), R290 (propane), R717 (ammonia) and R407C (a
mixture of HFCs). The choice of refrigerant influences the heat
transfer in the evaporator and the condenser. The manufacturer
of smaller, domestic devices decides on the refrigerant. The
refrigerant in larger installations depends on the optimisation of
the entire cycle.

102

energy is then equal) occurs in the intercooler. Consequently,


the entire surface of the evaporator or of the condenser is
available for the phase transition. This means that there is
the smallest possible difference in temperature over the heat
exchanger. Unforeseen liquid exiting the evaporator is converted
into vapour in the intercooler. The heat for superheating is transferred
between vapour and liquid in the intercooler. This heat is transferred better there than in the evaporator where heat is supposed
to be transferred between two gases.
In principle, an intercooler can be used in all applications, but
in practice it depends heavily on the choice of refrigerant.
Depending on the refrigerant used the density of the refrigerant
vapour decreases to a greater or lesser extent upon superheating. The cooling or heating capacity of gas engine heat
pumps is closely connected to the volume of the refrigerant
flow. The compressor must compress a larger volume of low
density vapour to realise the same flow volume. Therefore, from
an energy perspective, it is not always a good idea to install an
intercooler.

5.2.6 Gas engine heat pumps in the Netherlands


Various gas engine heat pumps are available on the market in
the Netherlands. For convenience of comparison they are divided
into small-scale and large-scale heat pumps, with 100 kW as the
dividing line.

Small-scale gas engine heat pumps


The gas engine heat pumps available in the Netherlands are airair heat pumps. As most distribution systems in the Netherlands
today are water-bearing systems, some Japanese air-air heat
pumps have been converted into air-water heat pumps and
water-water heat pumps.

Temperature levels
Gas engine heat pumps have four temperature levels for
heating purposes, one being the heat that the refrigerant gives
off, which has a relatively low temperature of 30 C to 60 C.
The three other temperature levels are linked to the flue gases
and the engine cooling. Most gas engine heat pumps use only
the heat from the engine cooling and then only in low outdoor
temperatures. Usually, the heat contained in the flue gases is

Chapter 5 | Heat pump systems and components

Figure 23 Plate heat exchanger (left). The flow directions are shown
on the right. Source: KGT
Figure 25 Evaporator/condenser for transferring heat from a refrigerant to central-heating water (left) and an evaporator/
condenser for transferring heat from a refrigerant to air.

Source: Alfa Laval

Intercooler
Evaporator

Compressor

Expansion valve

Condenser

Figure 24 Brazing of stainless steel plate heat exchangers. A thin layer


of copper (purple) is placed between two stainless steel
profiles (grey). This plate package is heated to a temperature
at which the copper starts flowing. Source: Alfa Laval

Figure 26 Diagram of a heat pump with intercooler. Source: KGT

103

Gas Heat Pumps

Figure 27 An open gas engine heat pump (top left), a close-up of a scroll compressor (top right) and a picture of the gas engine (below).

104

Source: Gasengineering

Chapter 5 | Heat pump systems and components

not used. The temperature of the engine cooling heat is 80 C


to 90 C and can be used to lift the heat to its final temperature.
The temperature is also hot enough to produce hot water.
The lowest temperature level of the flue gases still contains
a relatively large amount of heat. This temperature level is
slightly below the condensation temperature of the vapour in
the flue gases, as the vapour must be able to condense in order
to release this heat. The maximum condensation temperature is
50 C. The other temperature level in the flue gases is 500 C
to 600 C, which is the temperature of the flue gases immediately upon exiting the gas engine. This heat can be used to lift
central-heating water to its final temperature or for the supply
of hot water.

Capacity
All commercially available gas engine heat pumps are equipped
with a speed-controlled gas engine and several compressors. The
capacity of the heat pump can therefore be modulated. When
the required capacity exceeds that of a single heat pump, a series

of heat pumps can be installed, in which case the entire system is


regulated with one control.
Economically speaking, it is interesting to dimension a heat pump
based on a portion of the planned capacity. The most favourable
dimension is somewhere between 25% and 30% of boiler
capacity. With that capacity the heat pump provides 70% to
90% of the heat demand. The rest is peak capacity that can best
be met with a conventional boiler. Gas engine heat pumps are
pre-eminently suitable for use in the public and commercial
sectors, in care institutions and in other sectors as described in
chapter 4. They are too large for individual dwellings, but can be
used in collective systems.

Hot water
Most gas engine heat pumps can produce hot water, in which
case they are linked to what is called a hot water module. They
can use up to 30% of the consumed (gas) capacity to produce
hot water of 70 C.

Large-scale gas engine heat pumps


Gas engine heat pumps exist for larger capacities (>100kW). The
only difference between small-scale and large-scale installations
is their capacity. Gas engine heat pumps in excess of 100 kW are
generally fitted with screw compressors.

5.3 Absorption heat pumps


The operating principle of sorption heat pumps is discussed in
chapter 3. This section focuses on absorption heat pumps. The
Sankey diagram contained in figure 31 (page 107) depicts the
energy flows in a gas absorption heat pump.

Simultaneous cooling and heating

Figure 28 Example of a gas engine heat pump with air as a heat


source. Source: ICE

Most types of gas engine heat pumps can heat and cool atthe
same time. Heat pumps with a three-pipe or four-pipe distribution
system can heat and cool several rooms simultaniously. This is an
interesting option for public and commercial buildings. The advantage of simultaneous cooling and heating is that the best possible
use is made of the energy already present within the building
to meet both demands. Also see section 4.7.1. Some practical
examples are provided in chapter 7.

105

Gas Heat Pumps

Various gas absorption heat pumps are available on the Dutch


market. For convenience of comparison they are divided into
small-scale and large-scale heat pumps, with 100 kW as the
dividing line.

5.3.1 Small-scale absorption heat pumps


Table 6 (page 113) contains the specifications of a few absorption heat pumps. Figure 30 contains an example of an air-water
heat pump and of a water-water heat pump.

Distribution
For gas-fired absorption heat pumps the maximum supply
and return temperatures of central-heating water are 55 C
and 45 C respectively for standard models, and 65 C and
55 C respectively for HT models (HT = high temperature). This
distinction in return temperatures is useful for determining
which type of heat pump should be used. In new-build situations, installation designers can allow for a low distribution
temperature, for example by applying surface heating or other
low temperature systems. Existing structures generally do not
have surface heating and so radiators must be used in the
heating system. HT absorption heat pumps are suitable for
this purpose.

LT-CV nom. capacity

kW

137.2

210.2

285.4

HT-CV nom. capacity

kW

61.8

87.9

111.4

Cold water nom. capacity

kW

105.8

168.2

229.4

Compressor power
consumption

kW

33.6

45.3

60.5

Gas consumption NL
Natural gas

mn3/h

11.89

16.92

21.41

kW

110.4

157.1

199.0

PER Heating

1.80

1.90

1.99

2.97

3.15

PER total

2.76

E-power supply

3 phase + neutral

Voltage

400

Max. E-power

kW

2.5

2.5

Air supply

m3/h

1000

1500

1500

Condense discharge < 90 C

NW 32

Flue gas discharge < 90 C

NW 80

NW 80

NW 100

Sound pressure level


With housing

dB(A)

72

Without housing

dB(A)

90

Table 5 Data of a few large-scale gas engine heat pumps.

Capacity
Gas absorption heat pumps can modulate up to 50% of the
given capacity. If necessary, a series of heat pumps can be
installed, in which case the entire system is regulated with
one control. Economically speaking, it is worthwhile to dimension
a heat pump based on a portion of the planned boiler capacity.
The most favourable dimension is somewhere between 25%
and 35% of boiler capacity. At 15% of boiler capacity the heat
pump provides 70% of the heat demand. The remainder is peak
capacity that can best be met with a conventional boiler.

Exhaust
Ventilator

Air supply

Accumulator
Compressor

Heat source
Air-water heat pumps generally use outdoor air and occasionally
exhaust air as a heat source. Water-water heat pumps can use
surface water or ground water as a heat source, but also the
ground itself, in which case ground-coupled heat exchangers
apply. If ground-coupled heat exchangers were only to use water
to extract heat there would be the risk of the water freezing in the

106

Figure 29 Example (exploded view) of an air-water gas engine heat


pump. Source: Sanyo

Chapter 5 | Heat pump systems and components

pipes. Therefore, glycol (a mixture of water and antifreeze, also


called brine) is often used in ground-coupled heat exchangers.
Besides air, water and ground, waste heat can also be used as a
heat source.

Hot water
All commercially available absorption heat pumps can produce hot
water at a maximum temperature of 70 C. The water is heated
indirectly in a boiler tank.

5.3.2 Large-scale absorption heat pumps


The second category comprises absorption heat pumps for largescale applications with capacities of up to a few megawatts.
Large-scale absorption heat pumps are designed as single-stage
and two-stage heat pumps. These terms are explained in chapter
3. An example of a large-scale single-effect absorption heat
pump is provided in figure 32. The COP of double-effect absorption heat pumps is usually higher than that of single-effect heat
pumps, because the condensation heat in the first stage drives
the second generator.
Large-scale absorption heat pumps are the same as smallscale absorption heat pumps as regards supply, heat source
and hot water production. Their capacities are larger, but
their percentage of modulation is similar to that of small-scale
installations.

Figure 30 Example of an air-water gas absorption heat pump (left)



and a water-water gas absorption heat pump (right).

Source: Robur

Large-scale absorption heat pumps are often used as chillers;


they can provide cooling at a temperature level of around 5 C.
Primary
energy
100%

Adsorption heat pumps


Gas absorption and gas adsorption heat pumps are similar. The
characteristics of these concepts are explained in detail in Chapter
3. Their operating principle is the same, the main difference being
that the refrigerant in absorption heat pumps completes a continuous cycle, whereas the refrigerant in adsorption heat pumps
completes a batch process.
No adsorption heat pumps are available on the market at present;
however progress is being made in the field of small-scale adsorption heat pumps.

Source 54%

Flue gas loss 10%

Transfer

Gas absorption
heat pump
COP = 1.6

Delivery 144%

Figure 31 Sankey diagram of a gas absorption heat pump.



Source: BDH/KGT

107

Gas Heat Pumps

Capacity
The capacities of most heat pumps can be modulated up to 10%
of nominal capacity.

Heat source
Large-scale absorption heat pumps can use air, water and ground
as a heat source, as can small-scale installations.

5.4 Optimisation of heat pump systems


In general gas heat pumps are a favourable solution because of
their high efficiency. In many instances, the efficiency of existing
gas-fired heat pumps still has room for substantial improvement.
This section provides improvement options for gas engine heat
pumps, absorption heat pumps and adsorption heat pumps.
Section 5.5 discusses how to optimise their control.

5.4.1 Design of gas engine heat pumps

Flue gas
loss 2

Radiation and
convection
loss 2

Figure 32 Large-scale single-stage absorption heat pump. Source: Broad

Flue gas
30

Flue gas
heat exchanger

27
50 C

Heat 33 80 C
Gas engine

228
Mechanical
35

Compressor
COPw = 4.75

Heat
168 50 C

Source
133 7 C

Gas
100

Figure 33 Sankey diagram for an optimal gas engine heat pump.


Figures stated are units of energy. Source: BDH/KGT

108

The operating principle of gas engine heat pumps has already


been discussed in section 5.2. As indicated, the current gas
engine heat pumps leave room for improvement, given the
fact that in the Netherlands heating is more important than
cooling. The efficiency of the system can be improved considerably by expanding the current design by three additional heat
exchangers in the right place in the system. The Sankey diagram
in figure 33 shows the energy flows in an optimised gas engine
heat pump.
Another way to improve the efficiency of existing gas engine
heat pumps is to modulate the supply temperature. In the
standard situation central-heating water is always heated to 55 C,
whereas the delivered capacity is modulated by switching the
heat pumps on and off. By maintaining a high water temperature
the efficiency is lower than it could be. Efficiency can be increased
by varying the water temperature according to the demand for
heat. To do so the control needs to be modified. This is more a
matter of optimising the system than optimising the heat pump
and applies to all heat generators. This is particularly important
for a small raise in temperature. The lower the temperature
lift, the greater the share of heat exchangers is in bridging the
temperature difference.

Chapter 5 | Heat pump systems and components

Existing heat pumps


To save costs and space, designers of heat pumps have frequently
opted for tightly dimensioned evaporators and condensers. The
use of larger and better heat exchangers often produces a major
COP improvement.
Gas heat pumps are currently available with a COP of 1.3 in
cooling operation. Based on the rule that the COP for heating
is equal to the COP for cooling plus 1, it must be possible to
produce gas-fired heat pumps that achieve a COP of 2 or higher
for heating.

5.4.2 Design of absorption heat pumps


The system design for small absorption heat pumps is already
in accordance with the optimised design in figure 34. The
current designs meet the main principles. Large-scale absorption
chillers can be used as heat pumps. Optimisation is achieved by
adding a flue gas cooler and condenser (also referred to as an
economiser).

the process. The control must take into account the minimum
number of revolutions at which the manufacturer still guarantees proper lubrication.
Valve lifting. By lifting the piston valve(s) during the compression stroke some of the ingested gas is conducted back to the
suction pipe.
Pressure gas circulation. Circulation regulation controlling
the supply in the refrigerant cycle. The shifted compressor
volume remains the same.
During valve lifting and speed control the consumed power
of the compressor is in proportion to the supplied capacity. In
the event of pressure gas circulation the consumed power
is always constant whereas the capacity varies. The energy
efficiency of this method is therefore lower than of the two
other methods.

Combustion gases
Economiser

5.5 Control
Condenser

Heat pump systems distinguish two control circuits: the main


control and the internal control. This book discusses only the
main control in detail. This control gears the systems supply to
the heat or cooling demand. The internal control circuit synchronises the different components of the heat pump. The expansion
valve maintains the difference in pressure between the condenser
and the evaporator and as such is a key component for regulating
the heat pump.

Centralheating
pump
Generator

Radiators

Burner
Internal
heat
exchanger

5.5.1 Main control

Solution
Pump

Expansion valve
Expansion valve

The main control regulates the capacity. In principle, the capacity


of a heat pump can be regulated by switching the heat pumps on
and off. In practice, the capacity is often regulated by controlling
the compressor capacity. Various control types are discussed in
the next paragraphs.

Evaporator

Open air

Absorber

Reciprocating compressors
The capacity of reciprocating compressors (for engine capacities
in excess of 7.5 kW) is controlled in one of the following ways:
Speed control. The speed can be controlled up to the point
at which the beats of the piston movement start to disrupt

Figure 34 Optimised design for an absorption heat pump.


Source: BDH/KGT

109

Gas Heat Pumps

Screw compressors

Standard control

There are two ways to control the capacity of screw compressors:


Compression volume control. The length of the active part of
the rotor is controlled by means of a slide valve, as a result of
which only part of the rotor is used for compression when in
part load. This control is not efficient under 60% part load.
Speed control. This control is possible due to improved
production and lubrication techniques and achieves the
highest energy efficiency for screw compressors.

The temperature control in a building can often be maintained


when the buildings system is expanded by heat pumps. The
heating curve requires attention, however, as it should not be
set higher than necessary. In many instances adding a regulator
to the heat pumps suffices; however, the fitter may need to
adjust the settings to the specific situation. The same applies
to new-build situations in which heat pumps as well as boilers
are used to lift the heat to its final temperature and to produce
hot water.

From an efficiency point of view, when a compressor runs in part


load for most of the time, it can be worthwhile to install two
or more compressors in parallel. Compressors can then be eliminated completely in part load.

5.5.2 Heating curve


Figure 35 shows the heating capacity required for keeping a building warm, as a function of the outdoor temperature. Naturally,
this graph depends on the type of building, the insulation and
the user profile. Dwellings require heating when outdoor temperatures drop below the heating limit. The heating limit for
most buildings is around 15 C, the same heating limit as shown
in the figure. The further the outdoor temperature drops, the
greater the required capacity is for keeping the building warm.
Temperatures often drop to 7 C in the Netherlands, as is shown
in figure 35 in which the capacity line of the gas heat pump then
coincides with the capacity line of the building. The heat pump
can meet the capacity demand without the aid of a boiler down
to outdoor temperatures of 6 C or 7 C.
A heating curve reflects the connection between the outdoor
temperature and the supply temperature of the radiators needed
to provide the required heating capacity. The pale blue line in
figure 36 depicts a boilers standard heating curve. At an outdoor
temperature of 0 C the temperature supplied to the radiators
is set to approximately 50 C. At an outdoor temperature of
-10 C the supply temperature is set to approximately 70 C.
The return water (dark blue line) is then approximately 50 C
(T = 20 C). A heat pump cannot supply enough heat to meet
this standard heating curve as the demanded supply temperatures
at low outdoor temperatures are higher than the maximum
temperature the heat pump can produce.

110

Figures 35 and 36 assume a situation in which the heat demand


remains constant during the entire day. In reality heat demand
varies, depending on such things as internal and external heat
loads. The internal heat load is the calorification of everything in
the building that is warmer than the required room temperature:
lighting, computers, other devices and people. The external heat
load is caused mainly by solar heat gain.
If a boiler continues to burn too long after the required temperature
is reached, the return temperature can increase, causing the
heat pump to switch off. This fault occurs regularly, but the
problem is relatively easy to solve. A pulse-pause control determines
how much capacity is demanded before the boiler is addressed.
The boiler is then activated in fixed cycles of a number
of minutes. Within that cycle the boiler burns the correct
percentage of the time, so that the supplied capacity matches
the required (additional) capacity. This ensures that the heat pump
runs more smoothly. figure 37 shows the temperature course
of a standard setting including a heat pump. The pale blue line at
the bottom of the figure indicates when the heat pump switches
on. Clearly, the heat pump switches off when the temperature
supplied to the heat pump becomes too high (60 C), which is
always around the time the boiler switches off.
Figure 38 contains an example of the temperature course with
a pulse-pause control. The boiler heats the system water much
more evenly and is not continually switched off. Consequently,
the heat pump switches more smoothly and the temperature
course in the graph no longer shows any major highs and lows.
Efficient use is made of the internal and external heat load by
fitting the radiators with a thermostatically controlled tap. The

Chapter 5 | Heat pump systems and components

80
T supply HP

Total

Heat pump

T return
Gas HP

60

Temperature [C]

Capacity [kW]

5
4
3

50
70 min.

40

60 min.

115 min.

30

10

1
0

0
-5

10

15

20

16

17

18

19

21

22

Figure 37 Temperature courses when system is set to standard setting.

Figure 35 Heating capacity needed to keep a building warm as a


function of the outdoor temperature.

Source: KGT

80

80

Flow
70

70

Return
60

Heat pump
Temperature [C]

60

50

40

50

40

T supply HP
T supply boiler
T return
Gas HP

30

20

30

20
-10

20

Time [hour]

Ambient temperature [C]

Temperature [C]

15
m.

20

-10

T supply boiler

70

10

-5

10

15

20

Ambient temperature [C]

Figure 36 Example of a heating curve setting. The boiler delivers


higher temperatures (pale blue line) than the heat pump
(dots).

8:00

8:10

8:20

8:30

8:40

Time [hour]

Figure 38 Heat pump and boiler switch on and off more smoothly
with a pulse-pause control. Source: KGT

111

Gas Heat Pumps

following points require attention: the centrally controlled


heating curve must have space sensors in rooms with an average
climate and the sensors may not be in direct sunlight or screened
off by furniture.

temperatures varying between 3C and 5 C below outdoor temperatures. In many instances the existing heat distribution system
can be used to transfer cooling (which is actually heat absorption), although the system may need to be modified.

5.5.3 Cooling capacity

Radiators can be used to transfer cooling when their taps are


situated on top. The radiators must also have two or three
panels. Distribution systems with surface heating or convectors
can also be made suitable for cooling purposes, albeit with
some modifications. Figure 39 depicts a reversible heat pump.
The direction in which the refrigerant flows through the heat
exchangers can be reversed by giving the four-way valve a
quarter turn so that the evaporator becomes the condenser and
vice versa. Historically, the indoor unit is called the evaporator
because in many countries, barring the Netherlands, the cooling
function has been much more important than the heating
function right from the onset. This is confusing, because in
heating operation the indoor heat exchanger is actually the
condenser.

As regards cooling, a cooling capacity of approximately 3 kW is


sufficient for top cooling' individual spaces in such buildings as
care centres, for example. Top cooling means cooling down to

Evaporator

Expansion valve
Compressor

Four-way valve

Cooling or heating
Condenser

Condenser

Alternating between heating and cooling on a constant basis


(referred to as shuttling) results in high energy consumption and
should therefore be avoided. The heat pump can be set to cool
only at temperatures of 25 C or higher and to heat only at temperatures of 20 C or lower. Consequently, the system switches
off at outdoor temperatures of between 20 C and 25 C.

5.6 The current product range


Expansion valve
Compressor

Four-way valve

Evaporator

Figure 39 Gas engine heat pump and compressor with four-way


valve, making the installation reversible. Source: KGT

112

The market for gas heat pumps for public and commercial buildings is still relatively small in the Netherlands. Several manufacturers offer these devices. Table 6 contains the specifications of
gas heat pumps subdivided by operating principle and range of
application.

Chapter 5 | Heat pump systems and components

Absorption
Utility

Unit

Gas engine
and
Compressor

NH3/H2O

Indirect/1-stage

Direct/2-stage

Absorption*

Heating
Cooling

kW
kW

15 to 15,000
10 to 10,000

43
17

15 tot 18,000

300 tot 18,000

5
-

PER heating

1.2 2.4

1.3 1.8

1.3 1.8

2.2

1.2 1.4

PER cooling

1.0 1.2

0.2 0.7

0.5 0.8

0.7 1.3

0.2 0.4

Refrigerant/
Substances pair

Various

Entity

H2O/LiBr

Capacity range

Maximum water temperature

Noise
Weight

dB(A)
kg

Dimensions
Width
Depth
Height

mm
mm
mm

H2O/Zeo

H2O/Si
H2O/LiBr
NH3/H2O

65

65

40

40

Unknown

From

From

From

From

From

48

45

380

300

500

2.000

140

From

From

From

From

From

1,100
500
1,740

850
690
1,300

1,350
790
1,450

2,500
2,200
1,300

600
595
1,875

H2O = water; NH3 = ammonia; LiBr = lithium bromide; Si = Silica gel; Zeo = Zeolite. In substances pairs the refrigerant is always stated first.
* Only in domestic model.

Table 6 Indicators for various types of gas heat pumps. Source: KGT

113

Chapter 6 | Economic analysis

Chapter 6

Economic analysis
Having provided technical details in the previous chapter, this book now provides economic
analyses including exploitation costs, investment costs and the influence of gas and electricity
prices. Energy markets, subsidies, tax aspects and maintenance are also discussed in this chapter.

6.1 Economic analysis


Gas heat pumps have been used successfully outside the
Netherlands for many years, both in Europe (particularly in Italy
and Spain) and in the Far East. The first heat pumps stem from
the days when the need to reduce CO2 emissions was not yet
recognised. Finances were the primary motive for those first
generation heat pumps. For years, lower costs of energy have
balanced out the investment costs, which are 10% to 20% higher
on average than for conventional techniques.

6.1.1 Investment costs and benefits


The additional investment costs involved in gas heat pump
installations as compared to electric alternatives relate mainly to
the gas heat pump itself. In many instances, a portion of the
additional costs for larger installations (in excess of 300 kWth)

are offset by the investments that would otherwise be required


for reinforcing the electricity grid to enable the installation of an
equivalent electric heat pump.
More often than not, heat pumps are the preferential choice for
new public and commercial buildings. Within the foreseeable
future heat pumps will be the standard technology for heating
and increasingly for cooling as well.
Although some may beg to differ, the public and commercial
building sectors often gives more importance to costs than
the house-building sector does. For a well-founded decision it
is therefore essential that the outlined costs include more
than just the investment, and even go beyond the first tenant
or user. An assessment based on life cycle costing (LCC), a
method that takes all costs and benefits during a buildings

115

Gas Heat Pumps

entire life cycle into consideration (including installations and


other facilities), is more important than leasing potential in the
short term.
For a financial assessment of installations with gas heat pumps,
one must consider all investments, depreciations, subsidies and
tax allowances for a minimum of 10 to 15 years of the installations technical life span. The LCC must take into account all
costs needed to realise the required technical functionalities.
Possible alternatives for gas heat pumps should be calculated
in the same way. Calculating alternatives is tricky because they
might not offer the same functionalities, such as simultaneous
cooling and heating of individual spaces or simultaneous heating
and dehumidifying.
Financial analyses of investments in sustainable energy systems
are dynamic analyses. Assumptions and basic principles are
constantly liable to change. This is also true for the incentive
measures initiated by the government. Energy prices are very
changeable as well, particularly because the natural gas price
is linked to the price of crude oil. Expectations are that energy
prices will increase structurally over time. This means that financial
analyses based on current data will turn out more favourable in
a few years time.

Split incentive

Ownership alone
Lease alone
Ownership with others
Lease with others
Other

Offices Education Shops Hospitals Care sector


46%
60% 33%
74%
60%
25%
21% 48%
9%
32%
8%
4%
4%
12%
4%
20%
5% 15%
0%
4%
1%
10%
0%
5%
0%

Total
53%
28%
5%
10%
4%

Table 1 Distribution of interests between investor and user in the


public and commercial building sectors.
Source: Stratus market research (2007)

Table 1 provides an insight into the split incentive situation in the


public and commercial building sectors.
The last column in table 1 clearly shows that just over 50% of
the users of public and commercial buildings own the property.
Slightly more than 25% of the companies and institutions rent a
building entirely for themselves and 10% rent together with other
companies. It is a recent development that energy costs figure in
negotiations between tenant and landlord. Energy performance
labels provide the possibility of objectifying a buildings energy
performance and energy costs, enabling landlords of commercial buildings to express their investments in sustainable energy
options in the per-square metre rental price. This is simpler for
owner-users, but the investment amount can pose an obstacle
for them, even though the exploitation model seems favourable.
They must first come up with the funds for the more expensive
installation.

Investors in the utility building and house-construction sectors


are not necessarily the users of the premises. When weighing up
the investments for a climate installation it is important that the
investor can somehow recover the costs of the additional investment. This is referred to as the split incentive principle. When
gas heat pumps, for example, are used in a collective system in a
housing project, the housing corporation makes the investment
and the tenants benefit from the savings. In that case the lower
costs of energy enjoyed by the tenants must be fully or partly
expressed in the rental point system to enable the housing
corporation to recover its investment.

Outsourcing

This is often a complex situation in the public and commercial


building sectors. Research shows that the market potential of
rental real estate is strongly influenced by the propertys location,
age (the newer the better) and appeal.

Financial feasibility is the deciding factor in the choice of gas heat


pump system. The technical possibilities are hardly a hindrance;
the versatility and wide application range of the heat pump
technology can even result in the design of installations that

116

In the public and commercial sectors, entire power facilities are


regularly financed and exploited by an external party. As energy
prices are expected to continue to rise, making future energy
savings even more worthwhile, external parties are more and
more prepared to offer financial constructions for the deployment
of sustainable technology. To this end banks, energy companies
and large installation companies are known to join forces.
Outsourcing requires that both principal and provider have
technical and financial knowledge.

6.1.2 Financial feasibility

Chapter 6 | Economic analysis

are overly appealing and exceedingly costly. Right from the


very start it is important to bear financial feasibility in mind. Table
2 (pages 118 and 119) contains a matrix of product market
combinations (PMCs) as well as an indicative overview of gas
heat pump applications and their financial feasibility. This can
be a useful matrix for pre-selecting options for a specific
situation.

6.1.3 Maintenance and management


Up until recently central-heating boilers were the standard technology for heating public and commercial buildings. Maintenance
consisted of carrying out a few checks and cleaning the boiler.
Gas heat pumps are complex devices requiring a different
approach for maintenance and management. Dutch legislation
(including the F-Gas Regulation) also requires attention in this
respect.

Gas absorption heat pumps


Gas absorption heat pumps available in the Netherlands consist
of a closed circuit with a physical process primed by means of a
liquid pump. The cycle of the heat pump is hermetically closed
and completely maintenance-free. The outdoor evaporator/
condenser of air-water heat pumps must be checked annually
and cleaned if necessary. Cleaning takes no more than half a
working day. The hydraulic pump in gas absorption heat pumps
needs no maintenance for approximately 30,000 operating
hours, only requiring an annual visual inspection. Experience
shows that the hydraulic pump usually requires maintenance
after 30,000 hours. The gas burner is a premix burner that in
principle only needs to be cleaned after a visual inspection.
The location of the heat pump (in particular the dust load of
the location) greatly influences the condition of the evaporator
and the burner.

Gas engine heat pumps


Gas engine heat pumps are driven by a natural gas engine with
over-sized bearings specifically developed for stationary operation and low speed. The engine drives, via a flat belt, one or more
compressors that compress the refrigerant.
Dutch legislation pertaining to refrigerants (the F-Gas Regulation)
requires periodical inspection of systems that use refrigerants.

This inspection includes visual inspection and cleaning (if necessary) of the outside evaporator/condenser and takes roughly half
a working day. In principle, the hermetically sealed refrigerant
circuit is maintenance-free.
If a hydro module has been placed between the outdoor unit and
the water-bearing distribution system, it too is subject to mandatory
inspection. The compressors (usually scroll compressors) are entirely
maintenance-free. Maintenance on the gas engine is initially
limited to an annual visual inspection. The engine oil, spark plugs
and V-belt must be replaced every 10,000 operating hours. It
takes approximately half a working day to inspect a standard
installation. Every 30,000 operating hours the system requires
an overhaul, during which components in the periphery of the
engine are replaced as a precautionary measure. The revolving
part of the engine remains unaltered. The technical life span of
gas heat pumps is at least fifteen years if maintained according to
manufacturer regulations.

6.1.4 Energy prices


Energy costs comprise actual provision, transport costs and taxes.
Based on rates excluding the regulating energy tax (a kind of eco
tax) energy is relatively cheap in the Netherlands. However, the
rates including taxes are relatively high. Over the past few years
the development of oil prices has pushed up the costs of energy
in Europe. As the price of natural gas is linked to the price of oil
while much of the electricity in the Netherlands is generated by
means of natural gas, the higher gas price impacts the price of
electricity.
After the liberalisation of the energy market, supply and transport were officially split. Transport costs for consumers in the
public and commercial sectors are independent of the preferred
energy supplier. These transport tariffs are determined by the
Energiekamer (Dutch Energy Regulation Office, formerly DTe/
Dutch Energy Regulator). The energy supply costs are freely
negotiable between electricity provider and consumer. In
the Netherlands the price of natural gas is determined by the
Ministry of Finance. The price is always set for a period of six
months. Consumers in the commercial sector with an annual
consumption of up to 180,000 m of natural gas are referred to
as small-scale consumers.

117

Gas Heat Pumps

Feasibility of gas heat pumps in the utility sector


(new-build and existing buildings)
Fuel
NG&E = Natural gas and electricity as a auxiliary energy for control, pump and ventilators
G-W = Ground-Water
Technology

Source

System number

AA = Ambient air

Generation

Type of distribution system

Water temperatures of distribution systems

AA & G-W

AA & G-W

AA & G-W

AA & G-W

AA & G-W

AA & G-W

AA & G-W

AA & G-W

10

AA & G-W

11

AA & G-W

12

AA & G-W

13

AA & G-W

14

AA & G-W
AA

15

AA
AA

NG&E NG&E NG&E NG&E NG&E NG&E NG&E NG&E NG&E NG&E NG&E NG&E NG&E NG&E NG&E NG&E NG&E

AA & G-W

Air-water heat pump & water-water heat pump

NG&E NG&E NG&E NG&E NG&E NG&E NG&E NG&E NG&E NG&E NG&E NG&E NG&E NG&E

GAS ENGINE HEAT PUMP (GEHP)


1

Air-water heat pump

Radiat
oren, convent
ionele convect
oren
Radiators,
conventional
convectors

550/30
0/ 30

Air-water heat pump

Radiat
oren, convent
ionele convect
oren
Radiators,
conventional
convectors

660/40
0/ 40

Air-water heat pump

Radiators,
conventional
convectors
Radiat
oren, convent
ionele convect
oren

770/50
0/ 50

Air-water heat pump

Radiat
oren, convent
ionele convect
oren
Radiators,
conventional
convectors

880/60
0/ 60

Air-water heat pump

Radiators,
conventional
convectors
Radiat
oren, convent
ionele convect
oren

990/70
0/ 70

Air-water heat pump

Forced-air
convectors
Convect oren
met geforceerde
lucht st room

550/30
0/ 30

Air-water heat pump

Forced-air
convectors
Convect oren
met geforceerde
lucht st room

6
0/ 40
60/40

Air-water heat pump

Convect oren
met geforceerde
lucht st room
Forced-air
convectors

7
0/ 50
70/50

Air-water heat pump

Oppervlakt
syst emen
Surface esystems
(wall( Wandheating en
andvloerverwarming)
floor heating)

6
0/ 40
60/40

Water-water or groundwater-water heat pump

Surface esystems
(wall( heating
andvloerverwarming)
floor heating)
Oppervlakt
syst emen
Wand- en

5
0/ 30
50/30

Water-water or groundwater-water heat pump

Surface systems
(wall(heating
floor heating)
Oppervlakt
e syst emen
Wand- and
en vloerverwarming)

4
5/ 25
45/25

Water-water or groundwater-water heat pump

Surface systems
(wall(heating
floor heating)
Oppervlakt
e syst emen
Wand- and
en vloerverwarming)

3
5/ 25
35/25

Water-water or groundwater-water heat pump

Air-conditioning
unit
Lucht
behandelingskast

Water-water or groundwater-water heat pump

Air-conditioning
unit
Lucht
behandelingskast

Radiat
oren, convent
ionele convect
oren
Radiators,
conventional
convectors

550/30
0/ 30

Air-water heat pump & water-water heat pump

Radiat
oren, convent
ionele convect
oren
Radiators,
conventional
convectors

660/40
0/ 40

Air-water heat pump & water-water heat pump

Radiat
oren, convent
ionele convect
oren
Radiators,
conventional
convectors

770/50
0/ 50

Air-water heat pump & water-water heat pump

Radiat
oren, convent
ionele convect
oren
Radiators,
conventional
convectors

880/60
0/ 60

Air-water heat pump & water-water heat pump

Radiat
oren, convent
ionele convect
oren
Radiators,
conventional
convectors

990/70
0/ 70

Air-water heat pump & water-water heat pump

Forced-air
convectors
Convect oren
met geforceerde
lucht st room

550/30
0/ 30

Air-water heat pump & water-water heat pump

Forced-air
convectors
Convect oren
met geforceerde
lucht st room

660/40
0/ 40

Air-water heat pump & water-water heat pump

Convect oren
met geforceerde
lucht st room
Forced-air
convectors

770/50
0/ 50

Air-water heat pump & water-water heat pump

Oppervlakt
syst emen
Surface esystems
(wall( Wandheating en
andvloerverwarming)
floor heating)

660/40
0/ 40

Air-water heat pump & water-water heat pump

Surface esystems
(wall( heating
andvloerverwarming)
floor heating)
Oppervlakt
syst emen
Wand- en

550/30
0/ 30

Air-water heat pump & water-water heat pump

Oppervlakt
e syst emen
Wand- and
en vloerverwarming)
Surface systems
(wall(heating
floor heating)

445/25
5/ 25

Air-water heat pump & water-water heat pump

Oppervlakt
e syst emen
Wand- and
en vloerverwarming)
Surface systems
(wall(heating
floor heating)

335/25
5/ 25

Air-water heat pump & water-water heat pump

Lucht
behandelingskast
Air-conditioning
unit

Air-water heat pump & water-water heat pump

Lucht
behandelingskast
Air-conditioning
unit

Direct Expansion air-air heat pump


(Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) system)

Direct
expansie
binnendelen
in dein uit
voeringen:
Direct
expansion
internal parts
models:
Plafond
onderbouw,
4 -zijdig
2 -zijdig
casset t e,
Ceiling-mounted,
4-sided
anden
2-sided
cassettes,
sat
elliet , wall.
wand.
satellite,

The transfer
temperatures
the space
are regulated
by
De afgift
e t emperat
uren in deinruimt
e worden
bij V RF direct
VRFgeregeld
direct expansion
the combination
the internal met
expansie
door de by
combinat
ie van deofbinnendelen
components
and
the
external
component,
het buit endeel, op basis van de gevraagde ruimt e t emperat uur.
based on the demanded space temperature.

Gas absorption heat pump (GAHP)


1

AA

AA

AA
AA
AA
AA

AA

AA

AA

G-W

G-W
G-W

G-W

10

G-W

* The

influence of the central-heating distribution system on the performances of the heat pump is largely determined by the distribution temperatu
Base = Base load optimisation concept whereby the gas heat pump dimensioned at approximately 30% of the total heating capacity can
meet 85% of the annual heat demand. Source: BDH

118

Type of utility building

11

1
1

11

22

3
3

22

11

2
2

11

11

11

22

3
3

22

11

NIEUWBOUW
New build

2
2

22

Renovation
RENOV ATIE

22

BASIS
Base

Renovation
RENOV ATIE

New build
NIEUWBOUW

Replacement
V ERV ANGING

11
11

BASIS
Base

2
2

NIEUWBOUW
New build

2
2
2
2

RENOV ATIE
Renovation

Replacement
V ERV ANGING

1
1
1
1

BASIS
Base

NIEUWBOUW
New build

1
1
1
1

BASIS
Base

22
22

NIEUWBOUW
Nieuwbouw
New build

RENOV ATIE
Renovation

RECREATIE
Recreation

Replacement
V ERV ANGING

WINKELS
Shops

KANTOREN
Offices

1
1

RENOV ATIE
Renovatie
Renovation

Replacement
V ERV ANGING

ZIEKENHUIS
Hospital

1
1

BASIS
Basis
Base

Vervanging
Replacement
V ERV ANGING

V
ERZORGING
Care
Verzorging

2
2

33

3
3

2
2

2
2

3
3

33

22

3
3

33

22

22

2
2

22

3
3

33

22

3
3

44

3
3

3
3

3
3

4
4

33

3
3

33

4
4

33

33

33

4
4

3
3

3
3

33

3
3

44

33

4
4

44

4
4

4
4

4
4

4
4

44

4
4

44

4
4

44

44

44

4
4

4
4

4
4

44

4
4

44

44

1
1

22

1
1

1
1

2
2

11

22

2
2

11

11

11

22

3
3

22

11

1
1

22

1
1

1
1

2
2

11

22

2
2

11

11

11

22

3
3

22

11

3
3

33

3
3

3
3

33

3
3

33

3
3

33

3
3

33

33

33

3
3

3
3

33

33

33

33

1
1

22

3
3

1
1

11

2
2

33

1
1

11

2
2

33

11

11

2
2

3
3

1
1

11

22

33

11

1
1

22

3
3

1
1

22

33

22

2
2

33

11

11

22

22

33

11

1
1

22

3
3

1
1

11

2
2

33

1
1

11

2
2

33

11

11

2
2

3
3

1
1

11

22

33

11

1
1

22

3
3

1
1

11

2
2

33

1
1

11

2
2

33

11

11

2
2

3
3

1
1

11

22

33

11

2
2

11

1
1

1
1

11

11

1
1

1
1

22

11

11

2
2

11

1
1

1
1

11

11

1
1

1
1

1
1

22

11

11

44

22

1
1

4
4

22

1
1

4
4

22

11

4
4

2
2

1
1

44

22

11

N.v.t.
N.V
.T.

1
1
1
1

N.v.t.
N.V
.T.

1
1
1
1

N.v.t.
N.V
.T.

22
22

N.v.t.
N.V
.T.

N.v.t.
N.V
.T.

Hot water

Cooling - active

Simultaneous cooling and heating

Heating

Cooling - passive

Chapter 6 | Economic analysis

Table 2
Degree of economic feasibility

1 = Optimal

2 = Good

3 = Fair

4 = Challenge

11

22

11

11

22

22

11

11

22

22

11

11

11

22

22

11

22

33

22

11

11

22

11

11

22

22

11

11

22

22

11

11

11

22

22

11

22

33

22

11

22

33

33

22

22

33

33

22

22

33

33

22

22

33

33

22

22

33

33

11

33

44

33

33

33

44

33

33

33

44

33

33

33

44

33

33

33

33

44

11

44

44

44

44

44

44

44

44

44

44

44

44

44

44

44

44

44

44

44

44

11

22

11

11

22

22

11

11

22

22

11

11

11

22

22

11

22

33

22

11

11

22

11

11

22

22

11

11

22

22

11

11

11

22

22

11

22

33

22

11

33

33

33

33

33

33

33

33

33

33

33

33

33

33

33

33

33

33

33

11

11

22

33

11

11

22

33

11

11

22

33

11

11

22

33

11

11

22

33

11

11

22

33

11

22

22

33

11

22

22

33

11

11

22

33

11

22

22

33

11

11

22

33

11

11

22

33

11

11

22

33

11

11

22

33

11

11

22

33

11

11

22

33

11

11

22

33

11

11

22

33

11

11

22

33

11

11

22

33

11

22

11

11

22

11

11

11

11

11

11

11

11

22

11

11

22

11

11

22

11

11

11

11

11

11

11

11

22

11

11

The following comments apply table


2:
1) The most popular heat distribution
systems in the Netherlands were
chosen for all options along with
their associated temperature levels.
2) The matrix is indicative. In specific
cases one should consult the data
provided by the manufacturer.
3) In principle, gas engine heat pumps
can handle simultaneous, varying
demand for cooling and heating.
Gas absorption heat pumps should
be used only in cases of relatively
stable, simultaneous demand for
cooling and heating.

ure

119

Gas Heat Pumps

Within this category many different providers offer a range of


contract types and rate structures, depending on use, consumption pattern and term of the contract. Example calculations of
total cost of ownership (TCO) provided in this book are strongly
influenced by the types of contracts for energy provision.
Electricity and gas prices are an important factor in the total
cost structure. Until recently is was easy to save energy, simply
by replacing an old central-heating boiler by a new one that
was a bit more efficient. Annual savings could be assessed quite
accurately in advance. Deciding on the feasibility of a heat pump
generally requires more calculation. When deciding on a heat
pump system in the public and commercial sectors, both in newly
built and in existing buildings, three aspects figure largely in the
costs of energy:
The dimensioning of the heat pump.
The temperature level of the distribution system.
The choice of heat source (ground, water or air).

6.1.5 Financial and tax schemes

When dimensioned correctly, heat pumps operate predominantly


within their optimum range. Starting and stopping has an adverse
effect on the efficiency of gas heat pumps. Proper dimensioning
also keeps the number of starts and stops to a minimum.

Under the scheme, 44% of the sustainable investment can be


deducted from the companys fiscal profit. The estimated net
benefit for companies is approximately 11%, based on average
income tax and corporate tax rates. For gas-fired heat pumps
with a GUE (gas utilisation efficiency) of 1.4 or more, the maximum investment amount eligible for EIA is 200/kWth. The
EIA has been in place for some time and is expected to play a
role in making energy management sustainable. The scheme is
implemented by Agentschap NL (formerly SenterNovem) on the
basis of an annually updated list of approved techniques and
applications.

The distribution temperatures of gas heat pumps have a direct


impact on their efficiency (PER) and thus their energy use. As a
rule of thumb, the following applies for every type of heat pump
(gas-fired or electrically driven, irrespective of the source): the
smaller the temperature difference between source and supply
system, the higher the efficiency. Supply temperatures of over
55C must be strictly avoided.
Lower temperature levels in existing buildings require that the
buildings be insulated, possibly in addition to insulation already
present, or that forced-air convectors be installed. Supplementary
insulation is a major operation, but once done has considerable
and long-term advantages:
The maximum heat demand is permanently reduced;
The gas heat pumps annual performance is improved;
The gas heat pumps coverage percentage is increased when
combined with one or more central-heating boilers to cover
peak loads.
The capacity of the installed gas heat pump can be lower.

120

The Netherlands has introduced several schemes aimed at stimulating new technologies for conserving energy. These schemes
should definitely be taken into account when determining the
payback period of a sustainable energy option as they can have
a considerable impact on total costs. The principal schemes are
discussed below.

Energie-investeringsaftrek (EIA / Energy Investment Tax


Deduction)
In line with the objectives of the European Union, the Dutch
government has formulated a policy for sustainable energy,
energy saving and the reduction of CO2 emissions. The EIA
supports the purchase of capital equipment that brings about
energy savings or that generates sustainable energy. Sustainable
capital equipment is often slightly more expensive than conventional technologies. The EIA is a tax mechanism.

Milieu-investeringsaftrek (MIA / Environment Investment


Tax Deduction)
The aim of the tax deduction for environment-related investments (MIA) is to stimulate investments in environmentally
friendly capital equipment. Companies investing in this equipment are given an additional tax credit. They can deduct up
to 40% of the invested amount from their fiscal profit. The
actual deduction percentage depends on the environmental
impact and on the acceptance of the capital equipment. This
is indicated in the Milieulijst (Environment List). The tax department and Agentschap NL bear responsibility for implementation
and settlement.

Chapter 6 | Economic analysis

Willekeurige Afschrijvingen Milieu-investeringen


(Vamil / Random Depreciation of Environment-Related
Investments)

When applied to gas heat pumps they can be summarised in the


following formula:

The random depreciation of environment-related investments,


referred to as the Vamil scheme, gives companies a liquidity and
interest benefit as they can randomly depreciate this capital equipment (i.e., entirely at their own discretion). The Environment List
states whether an investment qualifies for the Vamil scheme. The
tax department and Agentschap NL bear responsibility for implementation and settlement.
Note: In practice, the Environment Investment Tax Deduction
(MIA) and the Vamil scheme are often combined. Both schemes
use the Environment List stating which capital equipment
qualifies.

TCO = I + CV * (Ei + Oi Rn)

6.2 Total cost of ownership


Gas heat pumps generally require a higher investment than
standard gas boilers. On the other hand, their fuel costs are
significantly lower as they run partially on renewable energy.
There are various ways to provide insight into the cost
impact and to assess the investments. This section addresses
the variables that figure in the financial considerations when
contemplating investing in a heat pump and focuses on
installations up to a few hundred kilowatts. Most applications
in public and commercial buildings and in collective apartment
blocks are within this capacity range.
There are other factors in assessing a potential investment
besides investment and integration costs. The exploitation costs
during the utilisation period (such as costs for maintenance and
energy) must also be considered. So the total cost of ownership,
abbreviated to TCO, must be examined.
The following costs fall under the TCO of a heat pump installation:
Investment costs
Exploitation costs
Maintenance costs
Costs of energy
End-of-project costs

i =1

I Total investment costs


CV Constant value (see below)
Ei The costs of energy in year i
Oi The maintenance costs in year i
Rn The residual value in year n
The cash value of a project as a formula is:
CV =

SUM CF
(1+DV)^P

[]

SUM CF The sum of the cash flows during the term


DV
The discount rate (or efficiency requirement)
P
The period in years
The value of the future cash flows is determined at the beginning
of the project by means of the cash value method and by taking
the efficiency requirement as dictated by the investor (referred
to as the discount rate) into account. The various costs in this
respect are addressed below.

Investment and maintenance


The investment costs for a complete gas heat pump system
including integration depend heavily on the technique (air-air,
air-water or water-water) and whether particular provisions
are required. The investment costs are roughly in the order of
hundreds to thousands of euros per kilowatt thermal.

Investment subsidies
An investment subsidy is a means to reduce initial costs. Two
national investment subsidies are currently available for gas
engine heat pumps. Agentschap NLs Duurzame Warmtesubsidie
(Sustainable Heat Subsidy) is available for the use of gas engine
heat pumps in existing apartment blocks. Tax schemes apply for
energy investments (EIA) and for environment-related investments (MIA/Vamil) and help reduce the costs for entrepreneurs
who run a profitable company. These schemes were discussed in
the previous section.

121

Gas Heat Pumps

Maintenance costs
40

Low
Laagwith
Low
met distribution
distributie

35

High

30

High with distribution

ct/m 3

25

Maintenance is a principal cost aspect during the life span of


an installation. As an indication, the annual maintenance costs
for gas heat pumps are 1% to 5% of their replacement value
(excluding subsidies) per maintenance period (generally one or
two years).

Energy costs

20

The total costs of energy comprise the costs for gas and electricity. Heat pumps consume considerably less gas as compared to
HE boilers. Their electricity consumption is slightly higher than
that of the reference boiler. On balance, the costs of energy for
gas heat pumps are considerably lower than for HE boilers.

15

10

0
ss

b -1,000 u

b - 2,500 u

b - 4,000 u

b - 8,000 u

Figure 1 Costs of natural gas including transport and distribution,


excluding taxes, for various consumer categories at a commodity price of e 0.30/m3 (spring 2009). (ss = small-scale
consumption, b = bulk consumption). Source: Cogen Projects

45.00
TTF Forward 2008 settlement
TTF Forward 2009 settlement

40.00

TTF Forward 2010 settlement

6.2.1 Costs of natural gas

TTF Forward 2011 settlement

35.00

The capacity range most suitable for public and commercial


buildings (installations of up to a few hundred kilowatts)
includes both small-scale consumers and bulk consumers of gas
and electricity. The line between bulk and small-scale consumers
differs between gas and electricity. Small-scale gas consumers
have a maximum connection capacity of 40 m3/hour. Bulk consumers are divided into two categories: companies consuming
up to 170,000 m3/year are so-called profile bulk consumers;
companies consuming over 170,000 m3/year are telemetry bulk
consumers.
Electricity customers are divided into simpler categories: customers with connections up to and including 3 x 80 Amps are
small-scale consumers; customers with connections in excess of
3 x 80 Amps are bulk consumers.

TTF Forward 2012 settlement

The costs of gas comprise commodity (i.e. actual supply), services


(including nationwide transport), distribution and energy tax. The
ratio between these items depends on the consumption volume
and on the purchase pattern. Figure 1 presents the costs for a
number of variants and distinguishes between high-pressure and
low-pressure connections and between price levels including and
excluding distribution costs.

30.00

25.00

comm en transport gas


20.00

2/4/2009

2/1/2009

2/10/2008

2/7/2008

2/4/2008

2/1/2008

2/10/2007

2/7/2007

2/4/2007

2/1/2007

15.00

Figure 2 TTF gas prices (x e 0.01 per m3) for future supplies in the
period 2007 - 2009. Source: www.endex.nl

122

Commodity share
Two options apply to the commodity share in the gas price:
price related to the price of oil and fixed price. The price of
the first option is determined per quarter (bulk consumption)

Chapter 6 | Economic analysis

or per six-month period (small-scale consumption) based on


the price of petroleum products in the previous period. The
reference for small-scale consumers is the average price of
domestic fuel oil over a period of eight months to two months
prior to the relevant six-month period. The benchmark for bulk
consumers is the average price of domestic fuel oil and fuel oil
in the six months immediately prior to the relevant quarter. Gas
can also be purchased at a fixed price. A good indication can be
found on the Title Transfer Facility market (TTF), which is listed
by Endex, among others. Supplies for the coming months, quarters and years are traded on the TTF. Figure 2 presents the TTF
prices for January 2007 to May 2009.
The TTF gas prices are the prices at which large parties trade
on the market. Suppliers uplift these prices with a surcharge.
Their price depends on the purchase pattern of the customer
but roughly comes down to the TTF price plus a surcharge of
0.02 per m3.

Transport and flexibility


A rate structure also applies for the transport of gas for smallscale and bulk consumers. Table 3 contains the transport and
flexibility rates for (telemetry) bulk consumers.
The rates depend on the region and the consumers location
and purchase pattern (the contracted capacity and the annual
volume). The base load capacity is the annual consumption divided
by 8,760 hours. Additional capacity is the contracted capacity
minus the base load capacity.
The transport share and the flexibility share for small-scale
consumers and profile bulk consumers are settled in a surcharge
per consumed cubic meter of gas. The amount of the surcharge
depends on the consumers region, hence the term regional
surcharge. The surcharge is roughly 0.10 to 0.12 per m3.

Distribution
Local distribution network costs (8 bar and lower) and transport
costs are calculated separately. These are the distribution costs.
The rates depend on the capacity of the connection. Smallscale consumer rates apply to connections up to and including
40 m3/h, after which bulk consumer rates apply.

Table 4 contains the components on which the distribution


costs for small-scale consumers and profile bulk consumers
are structured.
The same cost items apply to telemetry bulk consumers
(table 5), with one difference, namely that the capacity share
depends on the contracted capacity and not on the capacity of
the installed meter.

6.2.2 Costs of electricity


Although electricity costs constitute only a small portion of the
total exploitation costs of gas heat pumps, they are discussed for
the sake of completeness. Electricity costs comprise commodity,
network costs and energy tax.

Item

Amount dependent on

Costs

Flexibility
Entry rate

Additional capacity

Approx 100,-/m3/h

Basic load capacity

Basic load capacity

14,15/m3/h

Entry rate
additional capacity

Additional capacity

18,56/m3/h

Exit rate

Contracted capacity

3,- to 40,-/m3/h

Connection rate

Contracted capacity

0,50 to 50,-/m3/h

Table 3 Transport and flexibility rates for telemetry bulk consumers


of natural gas (GasTerra system). Source: Cogen Projects
Item

Amount dependent on

Fixed transport rate

Fixed rate

Periodical connection fee

Capacity of the connection

Capacity share

Capacity of the connection

Metering Service

Capacity of the connection

Table 4 Distribution costs for small-scale consumers and profile bulk


consumers of natural gas. The various items are the same for
profile bulk consumers and small-scale consumers, whilst
the rates differ. Source: Cogen Projects
Item

Amount dependent on

Standing charge for transport

Constant

Periodical connection fee

Capacity of the connection

Capacity share

Contracted capacity (HP/LP)

Metering Service

Capacity of the connection

Table 5 Distribution costs for telemetry bulk consumers of natural gas.



Source: Cogen Projects

123

Gas Heat Pumps

The ratio between these items depends on the consumption


characteristics. Figure 3 contains the cost structure for a number
of alternatives. All items decrease in an absolute sense as consumption increases. The rate for supply drops as a result of the
larger share of off-peak hours, the network rate drops because
of the higher operating time and the energy tax drops as a result
of the larger volume.

Commodity
Electricity is traded on several markets, each having its own
characteristics. One of the principal markets is Endex, on which
the prices for supply in future months, quarters and years are
determined (see figure 4). Suppliers trade on this wholesale
market and charge their end customers a surcharge, which includes, among other things, a margin for the supplier.

Network
Power companies also make a distinction between small-scale
consumers and bulk consumers of electricity particularly when
charging network costs. The connection capacity of small-scale
consumers is up to and including 3 x 80 Amps. Considering a
mains voltage of 230 V this comes to a maximum connectable
capacity of approximately 55 kilowatts. The items distinguished
for small-scale consumers can be found in table 6. Bulk consumers have connections at various voltage levels with specific,
contracted capacities. The items that apply to bulk consumers
can be found in table 7.

System services
Power companies charge both small-scale and bulk consumers
an amount for system services for each consumed kilowatt hour.

6.2.3 Taxes
Item

Amount dependent on

Standing charge for transport

Constant

Periodical connection fee

Capacity of the connection

Capacity share

Capacity of the connection

Metering Service

Capacity of the meter

Table 6 Distribution costs for small-scale consumers of electricity.


Item

Amount dependent on

Standing charge for transport

Voltage level

Periodical connection fee

Capacity of the connection

Contracted capacity

Contracted capacity

Maximum per month

Maximum kW per month

Consumption normal

Consumed kWh

Consumption low

Consumed kWh

Figure 5 shows the increases in energy tax on natural gas


between 2006 and 2009. There is an obvious difference
between the sliding scales. Figure 6 presents the development
of energy tax on electricity between 2006 and 2009. The first
sliding scale clearly shows a break in the trend. This is due to a
change in the way network costs are on-charged, which since
2009 is entirely capacity-dependent. By way of compensation, a
higher variable rate has been introduced in the energy tax along
with a much higher tax credit.

Table 7 Distribution costs for bulk consumers of electricity.


Gas

Electricity

Sliding scale (m )
3

Rate
(x 0,01/m3)

Sliding scale (kWh)

Rate
(x 0,01/kWh)

0 5,000

15.80

0 10,000

10.85

5,001 170,000

13.85

10,001 50,000

3.98

3.84

50,001 10,000,000

1.06

1,000,001 10,000,000

1.22

10,000,001>

0.05

10,000,001 >

0.80

170,001 1,000,000

Table 8 Sliding scales for energy tax (2009).



Source for tables 6, 7 en 8: Cogen Projects

124

Energy taxes and VAT are levied on natural gas and electricity.
The energy tax is based on a sliding scale. The sliding scales for
natural gas and electricity and their corresponding amounts are
shown in table 8 (2009). Energy tax is charged for each connection. The total amount charged for every electricity connection is
reduced by tax credits of 318.62 (2009).

6.2.4 Exploitation calculation


In order to provide an insight into the total cost of ownership,
this section contains an example of an exploitation calculation
for a heat pump installation. Table 9 contains the energy data.
The share of the heat demand provided by the heat pump is
established by means of NEN 2916. A number of economic
assumptions are made for purposes of calculating the cash
flow over the course of the years. The principal cost item is gas

Chapter 6 | Economic analysis

18

16
PC

14

Grid

12

[ct/m3]

[ect/kWh]

Supply
10
8

16

2006

14

2007

12

2008
2009

10
8

4
2

0
0 5,000 m3

1000 hrs - 80%

2000 hrs - 70%

4000 hrs - 60%

8000 hrs - 50%

Figure 3 Costs of electricity for rising consumption (The indicative


costs for delivery, network and energy tax are shown here,
based on forwards for 2010 set in early April 2009, capacity
200 kW). Source: Cogen Projects

140
120

5,001 170,000 m3

Figure 5 Development of energy tax on natural gas 2006-2009.


Source: Cogen Projects

12

Peak 10
Off-peak 10
Peak 11

2006

10

2007

Off-peak 11
100

Peak 12

[ct/kWh]

[/MWh]

60

2008

Off-peak 12
80

170,001 1,000,000 m3

Sliding scales

2009
6

40
2

2/1/2007
2/2/2007
2/3/2007
2/4/2007
2/5/2007
2/6/2007
2/7/2007
2/8/2007
2/9/2007
2/10/2007
2/11/2007
2/12/2007
2/1/2008
2/2/2008
2/3/2008
2/4/2008
2/5/2008
2/6/2008
2/7/2008
2/8/2008
2/9/2008
2/10/2008
2/11/2008
2/12/2008
2/1/2009
2/2/2009
2/3/2009
2/4/2009
2/5/2009
2/6/2009

20

Figure 4 Endex prices for electricity 2007-2009. Source: www.endex.nl

0 - 10,000 kWh

10,001 - 50,000 kWh

50,001 10,000,000 kWh

Sliding scales

Figure 6 Development of energy tax on electricity 2006-2009.


Source: Cogen Projects

125

Gas Heat Pumps

consumption. More detailed information on this item is


provided below. The total costs during the entire life span are
worked out in tables 9, 10, 11 and 12. The calculations are
based on an organisation that is eligible for the EIA scheme,
but that may not deduct the VAT it has paid. The table shows
that the costs of natural gas per year are considerably lower
when a heat pump is used. Because a fixed percentage of the
investment is taken for maintenance, the costs for maintenance
are higher in the case of a heat pump.

Table 12 shows that heat pumps require a considerably higher


initial investment than conventional boiler systems. However, the
costs during use are considerably lower. Heat pumps can save
more than 10% of the total cost of ownership.

Susceptibility analysis
By integrating a gas heat pump less gas need be purchased to
meet the same demand. As a result, annual energy costs decrease
and susceptibility to price fluctuations is also reduced. If gas
prices increase by 50% the saving increases to 15% due to the
heat pump. If gas prices drop by 50% the saving amounts to
almost 6%.

Heat demand

584,646 kWh

Installed boiler capacity

400 kW

Boiler efficiency

95%

Full load boiler operating hours

1,460

TCO calculations in Excel

Gas heat pump efficiency

155%

Share of nominal capacity supplied by HP (beta)

0.4

Share of heat demand supplied by HP

0.93

Full load operating hours HP

3,500

An Excel sheet containing a detailed calculation of the TCO of gas


heat pumps in random practical situations will be included in a
later digital version of this book.

Table 9 Energetic assumptions pertaining to the example situation.



Source: Cogen Projects
Commodity price of natural gas (excl. VAT)

0.23 /m3

Regional surcharge (excl. VAT)

0.11 /m3

Incremental cost price of electricity

0.08 /kWh

Energy tax on electricity (sliding scale 2)

0.0398 /kWh

Term of the project

10 jaar

Discount rate

6%

Residual value of project

6.3 Financing
When financing projects for existing as well as new commercial
buildings, parties look beyond the investment itself. Management
costs, maintenance sensitivity, costs of energy and flexibility (the
possibility of adapting the installation to a different use) are
highly important, in addition to the primary investments. The
calculation period is relatively long, generally some 10 years. In

Table 10 Economic assumptions pertaining to the example situation.



Source: Cogen Projects
Reference (boiler)
Annual gas costs
Annual electricity costs
Annual maintenance costs

Heat pump + boiler

41,571

26,605

833

1,982

1,600

2,160

Table 11 Energy and maintenance costs per year. Source: Cogen Projects
Reference
Investment
Present value
Total costs over course of
life span

Heat pump
32,000

79,610

323,877

241,014

355,877

318,623

Table 12 Total cost during the course of the life span.



Source: Cogen Projects

126

Figure 7

Example of a TCO calculation using MS Excel.


Source: Cogen Projects

Chapter 6 | Economic analysis

the selection phase the following matters must be specified in


order to weigh up the various energy systems:
Investment costs;
Exploitation costs and exploitation yields;
Additional income from subsidies, tax schemes and mortgage
conditions;
The installations depreciation period;
The TCO; the costs and benefits of the installation over the
long term.
Users of commercial buildings increasingly demand insight
into the exploitation costs, in which energy costs feature
heavily. Lower exploitation costs through the use of a lowenergy installation give users and/or owners more room for
investment.

New financing and management constructions


Various financing and management constructions have been
introduced to help remove any bottlenecks in the financing of
energy-saving measures in buildings.
1. Purchasing an energy-saving system on credit
The supplier funds the investment and the customer pays in
instalments on the basis of a formal agreement. However,
the customer immediately has full ownership of the system.
Legally, this is a private transaction. The supplier must have
sufficient equity capital to extend credit. This kind of credit
stands or falls with the mutual trust between customer and
supplier considering that the supplier will run into financial
difficulty if the customer is no longer able to meet his obligations.
This construction is therefore mainly suitable for parties who
have a longstanding business relationship and for customers
whose reputation is reliable, such as governments, municipalities
and institutions. The supplier will undoubtedly specify certain
requirements with respect to maintenance and management
to ensure that the installation continues to function properly.

VAT
The VAT is a fixed percentage of total energy costs (commodity,
transport and energy tax). The standard 19% VAT applies to all
purchased energy. VAT is an additional expense for parties who are
not eligible for VAT refund (such as care centres).

2. Leasing an energy-saving system


Leasing enables organisations to acquire capital equipment
without having to invest. Leasing is a very attractive way to
procure energy-saving facilities, particularly in existing situations,
as usually no additional costs are involved. In most cases
savings on energy costs compensate any extra costs. This possibility
is even more interesting for governments and non-profit
organisations because lease companies are entitled to make
use of the Energie Investerings Aftrek (Energy Investment Tax
Deduction, EIA) and reflect this benefit in their charges. There are
two leasing constructions:
Financial lease
The customer becomes the economic owner of the system.
It is listed on the customers balance sheet and the customer
also bears the economic risk. The lease company has legal
ownership for collateral purposes.
Operational lease
The lease company is the economic owner as well as the
legal owner of the system. The lease company buys the
system and is therefore entitled to the investment premiums.
These premiums are generally incorporated into the lease
price which can be reduced as a result. The system is listed
on the lease companys balance sheet and not on that of the
leaseholder.
There are various readily available lease concepts for climate
installations in the Netherlands. When an energy-saving
system is leased, the immovables and the systems must be
separated explicitly in order to enable the lease company to
have legal ownership. The lease company will require specific
sureties from the customer with respect to management and
maintenance.

127

Gas Heat Pumps

3. Outsourcing the energy supply to an energy services


provider
An Energy Service Company (ESCO) is a construction in which
energy companies see to heating, cooling, ventilation and such
(including supply of energy). This is done in existing buildings as
well as for housing projects in the public and commercial sectors.
The energy services provide their concept including maintenance,
management, depreciation and costs of energy in existing buildings.
Energy services usually base their concepts on state-of-the-art
energy-saving technologies. The cooperation is often entered into
for the long term and offers all parties a high level of financial
and technical security. The following points require attention
when selecting an energy service:
Guarantee for interim cost optimisation.
Clarity regarding the management, maintenance and energy
supply systems.
The choice of a lease concept or a total care concept.
4. Cooperation on an industrial estate or business park level
Local cooperation on an industrial estate or business park level
provides numerous possibilities to optimise the energy supply.
Examples are:
The use of large-scale, efficiently designed energy systems.
Bundled purchasing potential for heating, cooling, ventilation,
lighting, etc., resulting in competitive prices.
Realisation of an in-house energy infrastructure, depending on
the situation.
Setting up ones own energy service or contracting an established energy service to see to the energy systems on behalf of
all parties concerned.

128

Chapter 6 | Economic analysis

129

Chapter 7 | Demonstration projects

Chapter 7

Demonstration projects
The nine demonstration projects provided in this chapter illustrate the variety of possible uses and
the praiseworthy performances of gas heat pumps in practical situations. These projects are representative of the entire utility sector. They include both large and small utility buildings with widely
divergent heating and cooling demands. Three projects involve gas absorption heat pumps and six
involve gas engine heat pumps. Bivalent installations are also addressed.

1. Three gas engine heat pumps heat and cool a modern cinema
complex in Schagen, the Netherlands. The climate system
provides fresh air, heating and cooling. When necessary, the
system exchanges heating and cooling between the various
areas in the building.
2. A dental practice with surgeries and operating rooms was
established in ordinary office premises. The specific climate
conditions were met by means of gas engine heat pumps.
3. A unique climate system comprising, amongst other things,
four gas engine heat pumps was installed in modern sports
facilities that include a swimming pool and a wellness centre.
The installation saves a substantial amount of energy whilst
providing a high comfort level.
4. Nine apartment buildings in the Schalkwijk district of the
city of Haarlem were renovated and insulated. The owner
opted for large-scale use of solar energy and heat pumps.
Sixteen gas absorption heat pumps were installed. The energy
consumption per dwelling dropped by 70% on average.
5. A bivalent installation comprising gas absorption heat pumps
and two HE boilers produces energy savings of 30% to 50% in
day-care centre De Lotusbloem (Lotus Flower) in the town of

Aalsmeer. The heat pump provides heat to the surface heating


by means of a buffer tank and keeps the water in the swimming pool at the right temperature.
6. Sportfondsen Nederland (Netherlands Sport Funds) manages
approximately 300 swimming pools in the Netherlands, three
of which are now equipped with gas absorption heat pumps.
One heat pump is sufficient to keep the pool water at the right
temperature. An efficiency of 200% of lower heating value is
achieved.
7. A new shopping centre in the town of Geleen has 12 gas engine
heat pumps with hydro-modules installed in series, which has
made it possible to lay separate hot and cold water circuits
throughout the entire complex.
8. The new Nature Centre on the island of Ameland has several
sustainable energy options. The heat generated by two gas
engine heat pumps heats and cools the building via the
surface heating and air conditioning.
9. Genie, a firm of technical consultants in the town of Grootebroek, wanted sustainable energy technology in their new
office premises. They opted for an optimised gas engine heat
pump with heat recovered from ventilation air.

131

Gas Heat Pumps

7.1

Cinema CineMagnus, Schagen

After an extensive feasibility study carried out in 2006 and


2007, Cinema CineMagnus was built on a small industrial estate
just outside the residential nucleus of the town of Schagen.
Initially, a standard specification was drawn up which included
just heating (air heating) and top cooling. After the project was
put out to tender, a project team was set up that scrutinised
the climate system for purposes of achieving a better climate
without exceeding budget. The costs that otherwise would be
required for creating a new transformer vault for the standard
system were included in the new budget. An optimised installation
with gas engine heat pumps was calculated as an alternative to
the standard system.
The installation provides the following advantages:
No need for a heavy electricity connection.
The three-pipe system enables mutual exchange of heat and
cold between the areas within the building.
Project

CineMagnus Schagen

Use

Cinema

Location

Grotewallerweg 2
1742 NM Schagen
The Netherlands

Building size

Approximately 1,700 m2 gross floor area


70,000 visitors per year

Year of completion

2006 - 2007

Type of installation

Three gas engine heat pumps, three-pipe VRF


system for cooling and/or for heating

Make

Sanyo

Energy supply

Natural gas and electricity

Functionality

Simultaneous cooling and heating

Capacity

190 kW in total for heating


170 kW in total for cooling

Design temperature at -7 C

20 C (plus or minus 2 C)

Heat source

Ambient air

Transfer system

Direct expansion (DX)

Water temperature

n/a

Building management system

LonWorks / TA Control Systems / Schneider


Electric

Monitored energy performance No


Source: ICE

132

Easy regulation and control of the installation, also remotely


via the Internet.
Heat pumps are placed on the roof, eliminating the need for
an engine room in the premises.
Lower energy consumption.
In the end the system went slightly over budget, but considering
the advantages and anticipated savings the client opted for the
optimised system.
The installed system is unique. A large injection and distribution
plenum was created under the seats, which conditions the seats
via the perforated central chair legs. The gas engine heat pumps
regulate the temperature in the central plenum. The room is
CO2 controlled; 90% of the heat contained in the ventilation
air is recovered. The system is linked up to the two cinemas
and part of the foyer and other areas, and if necessary can
continuously exchange heating and cooling between them. The
entire installation process was completed smoothly and the
system was put into operation in 2006. The cinema is known in
the region for its pleasant climate.

Chapter 7 | Demonstration projects

Figure 1 Frontal view of Cinema CineMagnus. Source: ICE

Figure 2 Gas engine heat pump installed on the roof. Source: ICE

133

Gas Heat Pumps

7.2 Orfeokliniek, Zoetermeer


The Orfeokliniek is a dental clinic located in a regular office building, which has been entirely adapted to the requirements and
wishes of the users. It houses a regular dental practice as well as
a number of fully equipped operating rooms for intricate dental
surgery.
Premises for practices like this (and their specific use) make
heavy demands on heating, cooling and ventilation systems.
The Orfeokliniek is fitted out with two Sanyo gas engine heat
pumps on the roof. The buildings low electrical capacity and
the limited space of the technical room were deciding factors
in this respect.
The heat pumps provide heat and cooling to two large buffer
tanks, which in turn provide hot or cold water to an air conditioning unit with fan coil units. The ventilation air heats or
cools the surgeries in the building. To keep the indoor climate

Project

Orfeokliniek Zoetermeer

Use

Dental clinic

Location

Orfeoschouw 38
2726 JG Zoetermeer
The Netherlands

Building size

Approximately 1,200 m2 gross floor area

Year of completion

2008

Type of installation

Two gas engine heat pumps, two-pipe system


for cooling and/or for heating with water
module and hot water production

Make

Sanyo

Energy supply

Natural gas and electricity

Functionality

Simultaneous (if necessary) cooling and heating,


dehumidification, domestic hot water production

Capacity

120 kW for heating


100 kW for cooling
40 kW for tap water production

Design temperature at -7 C

20 C

Heat source

Ambient air

Transfer system

Direct expansion (DX), water

Water temperature

Heating: 40 C 45 C
Cooling: 7 C 12 C

Building management system

Yes

Monitored energy
performance

No

Source: ICE

134

as clean as possible, the building is ventilated with excess air. This


set-up ensures superb comfort and hygiene. The system is easy
to regulate and its energetic efficiency is excellent as compared
to a conventional installation (a central-heating boiler and a cold
water machine).

Chapter 7 | Demonstration projects

Figure 3 Two gas engine heat pumps on the roof of the clinic. Source: BDH

Figure 4 One of the operating rooms in the Orfeokliniek. Source: BDH

135

Gas Heat Pumps

7.3 Vital Fitness Centre, Raalte


Vital Centre in the town of Raalte is a newly built sport school
with swimming pool. The centres climate system with its
combined three-pipe and two-pipe gas engine heat pumps and
recovery of cold and heat from the ventilation air is unique in
Europe. Four gas engine heat pumps are installed in the Centre:
one three-pipe system (VRF) for cooling and/or heating, two
two-pipe systems (VRF) for cooling or heating and one two-pipe
system for cooling or heating with a water module. The three twopipe systems are fitted with a generator for generating electricity
and producing hot water. Three of the four gas engines provide
waste heat (75 C) during cooling operation to produce warm
water for the swimming pool. Hot water is produced with an HE

Project

Vital Fitness Centre Raalte

Use

Sports school with swimming pool

Location

Hammerweg 8b
8101 NE Raalte
The Netherlands

Building size

Approximately 3,300 m2 gross floor area


2,000 2,500 practising visitors per week

Year of completion

2008 2009

Type of installation

Four gas engine heat pumps

Make

Sanyo

Energy supply

Natural gas en electricity

Functionality

Simultaneous (if necessary) cooling and heating

Capacity

250 kW for heating


225 kW for cooling
60 kW for hot water production
12 kW electricity generation capacity

Design temperature at -7 C

18 C (in the sports halls)


21 C (in the offices)
31 C (in the swimming pool)

Heat source

Ambient air

Transfer system

Direct expansion (DX) and water (low-temperature


heating)

Water temperature

35 C 55 C for heating
75 C for foot-bath, swimming pool and Air
Handling Unit (Waste heat during cooling operation)

Building management system

Sanyo control in combination with selfdeveloped PLC (programmable logic control).


Temperatures can be regulated separately in
all rooms.

Monitored energy performance No


Source: ICE

136

gas boiler because the risk of legionella contamination weighs


more heavily than energy consumption.
The client opted for gas heat pumps instead of a standard installation with central-heating boilers and an electric heat pump for
several reasons, including:
Reduced energy consumption (and energy costs).
Reduced CO2 emissions (by 40,000 kg per year).
The possibility of putting the heat generated by sports people
to good use in the swimming pool.
Reduced transformer capacity.
Increased control flexibility per room.
The ability to dehumidify each room.
The installation could be realised within Vitals budget thanks to
the Energy Investment Deduction (EIA) scheme.
A high-efficiency electric heat pump is used in the swimming
pool area to dehumidify the air and also to reuse the waste heat.
Synthetic heat exchangers are used here to prevent corrosion.
Since its opening, people find the climate in Vital Centre Raalte
very comfortable. The Centre consumed only 27,000 m3 of gas in
the first six months.

Chapter 7 | Demonstration projects

Figure 5 Vital Fitness Centre, Raalte. Source: ICE

Figure 6 Four gas engine heat pumps positioned on the roof. Source: ICE

137

Gas Heat Pumps

7.4 Apartment buildings Schalkwijk, Haarlem


The nine apartment buildings in the Schalkwijk district of the
city of Haarlem were initially planned for demolition, but the
owner decided to renovate instead and install solar energy
and heat pump systems. Two gas absorption heat pumps
were installed in each decentralised technical room. These
heat pumps are used to preheat water for both heating
and supply of hot tap water. Sixteen gas absorption heat
pumps with a total capacity of 620 kW were installed. The
heat source is an aquifer in a sand layer at a depth of 115
metres. The aquifer system consists of a doublet with a hot and
cold source for extraction and infiltration. The heat collected
by the solar collectors in summer is stored there. The ground
water subsequently warms up to a maximum temperature of
45 C. The process is reversed in winter: the heat from the heat
source is transferred via the gas absorption heat pumps to the
heat distribution network.

Project

Apartment buildings Schalkwijk, Haarlem

Use

382 flats in nine blocks

Location

Schalkwijk
Haarlem
The Netherlands

Building size

382 x 80 m2 gross floor area


Approximately 1,000 residents

Year of completion

2002

Type of installation

Sixteen gas absorption heat pumps in


combination with solar boilers

Make

Robur

Energy supply

Natural gas and electricity

Functionality

Heating in winter, cooling in summer

Capacity

620 kW for heating


288 kW for passive cooling

Design temperature at -7 C

20C

Heat source

Heat and cold storage in aquifer

Transfer system

Water (Radiators)

Water temperature

70/45 C (gas absorption heat pumps are used


to pre-heat the space heating and the domestic
water)

Building management system

Yes

Monitored energy performance Yes


Source: Techneco

138

Improved insulation and the use of solar panels, gas absorption


heat pumps and heat storage, has reduced the annual gas
consumption per dwelling by 1,350 m3, which is 70% less
than before. Average consumption per dwelling now comes to
600 m3/year. Without the gas heat pumps, consumption per unit
would be approximately 250 m3 per year more. Unlike before, the
occupants have the advantage of having their own thermostats
to control the temperature in their own dwellings.

Chapter 7 | Demonstration projects

Figure 7 Block of buildings in the Schalkwijk district in the city of Haarlem. Source: Techneco

Figure 8 Two of the 16 gas absorption heat pumps. Source: Techneco

139

Gas Heat Pumps

7.5 Day-care centre De Lotusbloem, Aalsmeer


De Lotusbloem (Lotus Flower) is a day-care centre for children
up to 18 years of age who are developmentally challenged or
who suffer a mental or sensory disorder or multiple disabilities.
The children and their attendants have various playrooms and a
swimming pool at their disposal. A gas absorption heat pump
produces heat for the surface heating and for the swimming
pool. Other components (radiators, air conditioner and hot water
facilities) are fed by two new central-heating boilers. The old
regulating system has remained in place and has been expanded
to include separate components.
When more heat is demanded than the capacity of the heat pump
can handle, the central-heating boilers kick in. The heat pump is
disconnected via a 1,000-litre buffer tank. The temperature of
the buffer is kept at 45 C and the heat pumps temperature lift is
10 C to 15 C. The connection pipes between the buffer and the
heat pump are fitted with a circulating pump and an adjustment
valve for setting the primary flow. The auxiliary buffer is connected

Project

Day-care centre De Lotusbloem

Use

Day-care with swimming pool

Location

Apollostraat 66
1431 WT Aalsmeer
The Netherlands

Building size

Approximately 1,000 m2 gross floor area


Approximately 40 children and attendants daily

Year of completion

2009

Type of installation

Gas absorption heat pump

Make

Robur

Energy supply

Natural gas and electricity

Functionality

Space heating, heating pool water

Capacity

38.4 kW for heating

Design temperature at -7 C

20 C

Heat source

Ambient air

Transfer system

Water (surface heating plus heat delivery to


pool water)

Water temperature

45/35C

Building management system

Staefa Control

Monitored energy performance Yes


Source: Techneco

140

to the mix group of the swimming pool and the groups of the
surface heating. The heat pumps and central-heating boilers can
be switched by means of two shuttle valves. The gas absorption
heat pump saves the day-care centre 30% to 50% of their total
energy consumption. The day-care centre opted for a low-noise
heat pump installed on the roof.

Chapter 7 | Demonstration projects

Figure 9 Facade of the day-care centres swimming pool. Source: Techneco

Figure 10 The gas absorption heat pump on the roof. Source: Techneco

141

Gas Heat Pumps

7.6 Sportfondsen Nederland, swimming pools


Gas absorption heat pumps are very suitable as a low-energy
heating device in swimming pools. Sportfondsen Nederland
(Netherlands Sport Funds) manages roughly 300 swimming
pools, three of which have been equipped with a gas
heat pump. The swimming pools in Rotterdam (Recreation
Centre Oostervant), Didam (Swimming Pool De Hoevert) and
Roelofarendsveen (Sport and Recreation Centre De Tweesprong)
each need only one absorption heat pump to keep the water
at the required temperature of 30 C. The system achieves an
efficiency of 200% depending on the outdoor temperature.
As the heat pumps are placed on the roofs of the swimming
pools, there is no loss of space in the technical rooms. The gas
consumption is approximately half that of a similar swimming
pool with a conventional installation.

Project

Sportfondsen Nederland, swimming pools

Use

Recreational swimming pool

Location

Rotterdam, Didam and Roelofarendsveen,


The Netherlands

Building size

Approximately 600 m3 of water


per swimming pool
100 500 visitors per day per swimming pool

Year of completion

2009

Type of installation

Gas absorption heat pump

Make

Robur

Energy supply

Natural gas and electricity

Functionality

Heating the pool water

Capacity

38.4 kW for heating

Design temperature at -7 C

30 C (zwembadwater)

Heat source

Ambient air

Transfer system

Water

Water temperature

30 C

Building management system

No

Monitored energy performance Yes


Source: Techneco

142

Chapter 7 | Demonstration projects

Figure 11 The gas absorption heat pump on the roof of the swimming pool in Didam. Source: Sportfondsen Nederland

Figure 12 The gas absorption heat pump on the roof of the swimming pool in Rotterdam. Source: Sportfondsen Nederland

143

Gas Heat Pumps

7.7 Shopping Centre, Geleen


The property developer of a new shopping centre in the heart
of Geleen was looking for a low-energy solution to the centres
heating and cooling demand. Combined demand for heating and
cooling is characteristic of shopping centres. The lighting used in
shops for presentation purposes increases the heat load to such
an extent that cooling is required even in winter. The advantages
of a gas heat pump are obvious here: easy integration, ability
to supply heat and cold at the same time and relatively low CO2
emissions. Gas heat pumps save a significant amount of primary
energy as compared to electric heat pumps.
A system comprising 12 cascade gas engine heat pumps with
hydro-modules was designed for the mall. A four-pipe water
system has been laid throughout the entire mall. This means
that both cooling and heating is available in all of the shops. The
consumption is measured and settled per shop unit. The system
is extensively optimised. To illustrate, the engine heat released
during the production of heating and cooling is used (and
buffered, if necessary) in the hot water system.

Project

Shopping Centre, Geleen

Use

Retail trade

Location

City centre of Geleen


The Netherlands

Building size

Approximately 11,500 m2

Year of completion

2008

Type of installation

Twelve gas engine heat pumps

Make

AISIN Toyota

Energy supply

Natural gas and electricity

Functionality

Space heating and cooling throughout year,


partly simultaneously

Capacity

1,008 kW for heating


852 kW for cooling

Design temperature at -7 C

A7/W35

Heat source

Ambient air and engine heat

Transfer system

Water

Water temperature

Cooling 7/11 C, heating 35/41 C

Building management system

Yes

Monitored energy performance Yes


Source: Gasengineering

144

According to information provided by the supplier, the installed


four-pipe system provides an average seasonal heating efficiency
170% (of lower heating value) or higher.

Chapter 7 | Demonstration projects

Figure 13 Gas engine heat pumps on the roof of the shopping centre in Geleen. Source: Gasengineering

Figure 14 The gas engine heat pumps from a different angle. Source: Gasengineering

145

Gas Heat Pumps

7.8 Natuurcentrum, Ameland


The Natuurcentrum (Nature Centre) on the island of Ameland is
a modern museum and visitor centre in a striking new building
near the village of Nes. Several energy partners were involved in
the design of the Centre via the Sustainable Ameland Project. It
was on their initiative that a climate system with gas heat pumps
was investigated. The visitor centre is a fine example of a modern
public building with a relatively low heat demand due to proper
insulation. On the other hand, the building requires cooling
during much of the year. Occasionally, heating and cooling are
demanded at the same time. Gas heat pumps are an interesting
option in this type of building. The higher investment as compared
to a central-heating boiler with chillers can be recovered within
just a few years.
A low temperature surface heating system has been installed
in the visitor centre. The air conditioning system raises the
heating to its final temperature and cools in summer. The two gas
Project

Natuurcentrum Ameland

Use

Visitor centre and museum

Location

Strandweg 38
9163 GN Nes
The Netherlands

Building size

2,300 m2 gross floor area


Approximately 60,000 visitors per year

Year of completion

2008

Type of installation

Two gas engine heat pumps

Make

AISIN Toyota

Energy supply

Natural gas and electricity

Functionality

Space heating and cooling. Simultaneous cooling and heating during transitional seasons.

Capacity

134 kW for heating


112 kW for cooling

Design temperature at -7 C

Offices: 21 C
Exhibition areas: 18 C

Heat source

Ambient air and engine heat

Transfer system

Water, air conditioning

Water temperature

Cooling 7/11 C, heating 35/41 C

Building management system

Yes, managed remotely by the installer in


Dokkum

Monitored energy performance Yes; no data available as yet


Source: Gasengineering

146

engine heat pumps are placed outdoors next to the building, as


the buildings architecture does not allow for them to be installed on the roof. The indoor part of the system is placed behind
glass as part of an energy exhibition. A four-pipe system with
a water buffer for possible storage of engine heat was chosen.
TNO (Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research)
monitors the installation remotely.

Chapter 7 | Demonstration projects

Figure 15 Nature Centre on the island of Ameland. Source: BDH

Figure 16 Two gas engine heat pumps placed next to the building. Source: BDH

147

Gas Heat Pumps

7.9 Genie, technical consultancy firm, Grootebroek


The client for this project, a technical consultancy firm in the
village of Grootebroek, took the opportunity to realise smart,
but most of all profitable technology in its newly built premises.
Upon extensive research they opted for an installation with a gas
heat pump and a four-pipe distribution system for heating and
cooling.

optimised gas engine heat pump with recycled engine heat, a


four-pipe water system and heat recovery from ventilation air.
This kind of installation does not quite achieve the efficiency of a
heat and cold storage installation, but it is easier and less costly
to realise. In practice this option is the best alternative in cases
where a heat and cold storage installation is not feasible.

Genies new premises have a strong north-south orientation with


many windows facing south. Consequently, the building regularly
needs heating on one side and cooling on the other. Gas heat
pumps are usually an interesting option for buildings like this.
Alternative systems either do not provide the same comfort or
they consume considerably more energy.

According to information provided by the supplier, the average


seasonal efficiency is 170% (of lower heating value) or higher.
Genie painstakingly monitors their buildings energy consumption. At the end of January 2010, the natural gas consumption
was approximately 110 m3 per week. They expect to consume
6,000 m3 of natural gas per year for heating and cooling, which
is an extremely low amount for a building of its size.

One of the options that were considered was a heat pump


system with heat and cold storage in the ground. When properly
designed, this type of installation has a high seasonal efficiency.
In Genies case, however, heat and cold storage was too complex
and too costly. The next alternative was an installation with an
Project

Genie, technical consultancy firm, Grootebroek

Use

Office for a technical consultancy firm

Location

Bedrijfsweg 16
1613 DX Grootebroek
The Netherlands

Building size

500 m2 offices, 14 workplaces

Year of completion

2009

Type of installation

Gas engine heat pump

Make

AISIN Toyota

Energy supply

Natural gas and electricity

Functionality

Space heating and cooling. Simultaneous cooling


and heating during transitional seasons.

Capacity

42.5 kW for heating


35.5 kW for cooling

Design temperature at -7 C

22 C

Heat source

Ambient air and engine heat

Transfer system

Water

Water temperature

Cooling 7/11 C, Heating 35/41 C

Building management system

Yes, brand: Trend

Monitored energy performance Yes


Source: Gasengineering

148

Chapter 7 | Demonstration projects

Figure 17 The new premises of technical consultancy firm Genie BV. Source: Gasengineering

Figure 18 Technical room with hydro module. Source: Gasengineering

149

Appendix | Calculating gas heat pumps

Appendix

Calculating gas
heat pumps
In order to properly compare the efficiency of various heat pump systems the energetic performances must first be converted into primary energy. This appendix provides an overview of the
key quantities, definitions and system limits from which a number of formulas for calculating
system efficiencies can be derived.

Definitions

COP and GUE

It is essential that the same terminology is used when comparing


various heat pump systems. So as to avoid false impressions,
this paragraph provides an overview of the key quantities and
their associated definitions. Figure 1 contains the three most
common system limits, clearly showing the efficiencies of the
heat pump, the storage and distribution system, and the entire
system.

The energetic performance (the efficiency) of electrically driven


heat pumps is referred to as the Coefficient of Performance
(COP). Several definitions apply but in essence, the COP is the
ratio between the amount of energy supplied by the heat pump
and the total amount of energy consumed. The consumed energy
is the energy that drives the compressor, the energy used for
regulating purposes and the energy needed for the medium to
flow through the evaporator and the condenser.

The Seasonal Performance Factor (SPF) comprises the system


limits of both the separate heat pump and the storage and
distribution system. It pertains to the useful energy (heat and
cooling) that surpasses the system limits. The various quantities
are provided in table 1, followed by a more detailed explanation
of the various quantities and terms.

The energetic efficiency of gas heat pumps is often referred to as


the Gas Utilisation Efficiency (GUE), which is the ratio between
the useful heat delivered by the heat pump and the amount of
gas (converted into an amount of energy based on the lower
heating value of the gas) the heat pump uses. This does not take

151

Gas Heat Pumps

into account the electric energy for the pumps and the control.
The COP and the GUE can be established both momentarily and
over a certain period of time.
The COP of electric heat pumps is the quotient of the energy
delivered by the heat pump (QHP) and the driving energy of the
heat pump (EHP, drive). Therefore, the following formula applies to
electric heat pumps:

Electric heat pump

COPEHP =

SPF =
SPFprim =

E HP, drive

GUEGHP =
PERGHP =

Q Tap + Q SH

GHP, drive

[]

= PERsys[]

(E HP, drive+ E co-heating+ E aux )/el


Q heat + Q cooling
E HP, drive total

Drive energy share = =


=

G HP, drive

[]
Q HP

G HP, drive + E HP, drive /el


n/a

Q Tap + Q SH

HP, drive

/el

Q HP
Q tap + Q SH

(E HP, drive+ E aux )/el + G HP, drive+ G co-heating

Combi performance prim =

[]

[]

EHP, drive + E co-heating+ E aux

Table 1 Overview of key quantities

Q Tap + Q SH

= PERsys[]

n/a

EHP, drive

1
*
C

SPFprim =

[]

Q HP; heat+ Q HP: cooling

Coverage percentage = C =

Q HP

[]

E HP, drive+ E co-heating+ E aux

Combi performance prim =

152

Q HP

GUEGHP =

n/a

Q HP

SPF
COP EHP

The following applies to gas-driven heat pumps:

[]

E HP, drive /el

Combi performance =

systeem =

[]

E HP, drive

Gas-driven heat pump

Q HP

n/a
PEREHP =

Q HP

COPEHP =

[]

Q HP, heat+ Q HP, cooling


G HP, drive + E

HP, drive

/el

Appendix | Calculating gas heat pumps

Primary Energy Ratio (PER)


The COP and GUE quantities cannot be compared directly. In
order to compare the efficiencies of electrically driven and gasdriven heat pumps, these quantities must be converted into the
Primary Energy Ratio (PER), which relates the systems energetic
performances to primary energy after which the various energies
(in this case electricity and natural gas) can be compared. Gas is
considered to be a primary fuel, electricity is not. The electricity
use must be converted into primary energy by taking the average
efficiency of the electricity supply (generation and distribution)
into account. The average efficiency of the electricity supplyis
set in this handbook at 42% (of lower heating value), which
corresponds with the value stated in the EPN (Energy Performance
Regulation).
The following formula applies to electric heat pumps:
Q HP
PEREHP =
[]
E HP, drive /el
The following formula applies to gas-driven heat pumps:
Q HP
PERGHP =
[]
G HP, drive + EHP, drive/el

SPF

system

Quantities
QHP
Qtap

The heat delivered by the heat pump (energy)

QSH

The energy supplied by the system via the heating


system

Qheat
Qcooling
Q H P, heat
Q H P, cooling

The energy supplied by the system via the domestic


hot water

The heat delivered by the system (Qtap + QSH)


The cooling delivered by the system
The heat delivered by the heat pump
The cooling delivered by the heat pump

GHP, drive

The amount of gas consumed by the heat pump converted into the amount of energy based on the lower
heating value

Gco-heating

The amount of gas consumed by the system for the


co-heating facility converted into the amount of
energy based on the lower heating value

el

The efficiency for electricity generation and transport


(42% based on lower heating value)

EHP, drive

The electric energy consumed by the heat pump


for the compressor, the control and the circulating
pumps in the heat pump

Eco-heating

The electric energy consumed by the co-heating


facility

Eco-cooling
Eaux
EauxGHP

The electric energy consumed for additional cooling


The auxiliary electric energy consumed by the system
The auxiliary electric energy consumed by the heat
pump

COPHP
QHP

EHP, drive
HP

Qtap
Etotal

Eco-heating

Qtotal
QSH

Eaux

Figure 1 System limits of the various quantities that indicate the


efficiency (SPF) of a heat pump system.

Source: TNO

153

Gas Heat Pumps

Seasonal Performance Factor (SPF)


The system limit of the Seasonal Performance Factor (SPF) comprises the system limits of the separate heat pump and the storage
and distribution system. It pertains to the useful energy (heating
and cooling) that surpasses the system limit and is supplied to the
building.

SPF =

Q tap + Q SH + Q cooling

Importantly, the SPF is heavily dependent on user behaviour


because system losses are discounted in the SPF. System losses
in this approach become apparent in the system efficiency system:
SPF = system* PERGHP
or:
Q tap+ Q SH
GHP, drive+ EauxGHP

1
PERGHP

Q tap+Q SH
Etotal*PERGHP

In this formula the numerator is the total heat delivered by the


heat pump system and the denominator is the amount of heat
that would have been generated if the total electricity input Etotal
had been used to drive the heat pump. system is therefore the
ratio between the actual heat delivered and the heat that an ideal
system would have delivered.

154

system=

system =

[]

G HP, drive + EHP, drive /el


The SPF is preferably calculated for a full season, but of course
it can also be calculated for a shorter length of time (per heating season or season or quarter). The numerator in the fraction
is the heat delivered for the domestic water function (Qtap), the
space heating function (QSH) and the cooling function (Qcooling).
The denominator is the total amount of (electric) energy supplied
to the system. This energy flow consists of the driving energy
(natural gas) for the heat pump (GHP, drive), the auxiliary energy for
driving the pumps, the ventilators, the control and the security
(EauxGHP).

system=

The following also applies:

system =

Q tap+ Q SH

GHP, drive+ EauxGHP


Q tap+ Q SH
Q HP

PERGHP

Q tap+ Q SH
Etotal*PERGHP

GHP, drive
* G
+ EauxGHP
HP, drive

1
*
C

Coverage percentage: C =

Q HP
Q tap + Q SH

Share driving energy =

SPF =

[]

EHP, drive
GHP, drive + EauxGHP

[]

1
PERGHP
C * *

This derivative shows that the system efficiency depends on the


coverage percentage (C) of the heat pump and the ratio () between the driving energy of the heat pump and the total energy
supplied to the system.
The coverage percentage of a system is the ratio between the
amount of heat the heat pump can supply and the amount of
heat demanded for domestic hot water and space heating. This
ratio is <1 for a bivalent system (the heat pump provides a portion of the total heat demand), whereas the coverage percentage
of a monovalent system is 1 (100%).
The share of driving energy factor gives an idea of how much
auxiliary energy is used. A high value for this quantity indicates
that pumps, ventilators, etc., use only a small amount of energy.
A low value calls for a critical analysis of the use of auxiliary
energy. The PERGWP, C and quantities combined give a good
impression of how the heat pump system is functioning. This
data can be used to calculate the systems efficiency (system) and
the SPF.

Appendix | Calculating gas heat pumps

The SPF also needs to be converted into primary energy in order


to compare gas-driven systems with electrically driven systems.
This primary energy-based SPF can also be stated as the Primary
Energy Ratio of the entire system (PERsys).

SPFprim =

Q tap + Q SH + Q cooling
(GHP, drive+ EauxGHP /el+ Gco-heating

= PERsys []

System losses are expressed in the system efficiency system.


SPF = system* combi performance
or:
sys=

SPF
combi performance

Terms that apply to heating and cooling


Heat pumps prove their value in simultaneous heating and
cooling situations. Wrongly, the COPs for cooling and for heating
are often simply added together in these situations. The correct
procedure is to combine the supplied energy in the form of
heating and cooling and divide that total by the primary energy
needed to drive the heat pump.

Combi performanceprim =

Combi performanceprim =

Q HP, heat + Q HP, cooling


GHP, drive
Q HP, heat+ Q HP, cooling
GHP, drive + EauxGHP / el

Q heat + Q cooling
EHP, drive + Eco-heating + Eco-cooling + Eaux

= []

EHP, drive
Q HP, heat+ Q HP, cool

The factor C in this case is called the combined coverage


percentage:

Q heat + Q cooling
Q HP, cooling + Q HP, heat


In this formula the numerator is the total heat delivered by the
heat pump system and the denominator is the amount of heat
that would have been generated if the total electricity input
Etotal had been used to drive the heat pump.
The following also applies:

[]
Coverage percentage Ccooling =


SPFprim=

EHP, drive+ Eco-heating+ Eco-cooling+ Eaux

= []

The SPF is generally calculated over a full season. If the heat


pump heats as well as cools, the following applies:

SPF =

Q heat+ Q cooling

Q heat + Q cooling
(EHP, drive+ Eco-heating + Eco-cooling + Eaux )/el + GHP, drive+ Gco-heating

Q HP, cooling
Q cooling

=PERsys []

Qheat The heat provided by the system (Qtap + QSH)


Qcooling The cooling provided by the system

Auxiliary energy share =

[]
GHP, drive

GHP, drive + (Eco-cooling + EauxGHP) el

It is easy to derive the additional energy share from this:


Additional energy share = 1 -

The useful amount of heat and the useful amount of cooling are
included in the numerator. The total amount of energy needed to
realise this is in the denominator.

155

Gas Heat Pumps

Definitions

Absorption Physical process in which a refrigerant vapour is attracted by


a liquid (the absorbent) upon which it is absorbed in (and mixed with) the
absorbent.
Absorption heat pump Heat pump whose operating principle is based
on absorption.
Adsorption Process similar to absorption, in which the molecules attach
themselves to a solid substance instead of a liquid. The molecules of the
refrigerant attach themselves to the molecules of the adsorbent, but do not
mix with them as they would do in the absorption process.
Adsorption heat pump Heat pump whose operating principle is based
on adsorption.
Air-water heat pump Heat pump that uses ambient air as a heat source.
It can therefore be used virtually anywhere. The heat pump provides cooling by transferring heat to the (ambient) air.
Air factor () Ratio showing the composition of the fuel-air mixture
for a combustion engine. For stoichiometric combustion the air factor
= 1.
Antifreeze A mixture of water and glycol, also called brine.

156

Carnot efficiency Maximum (theoretical) efficiency that can be achieved


through thermodynamic energy conversion.
Carnot factor Efficiency that can be achieved through thermodynamic
energy conversion, expressed as a fraction of the Carnot efficiency. The
method for determining this efficiency was developed by Carnot.
Cascade Several similar devices (such as heat pumps or HE boilers)
connected in parallel.
Co-existence range The temperature range on the liquid-vapour line
within which two phases of the same substance (for example vapour and
liquid) can co-exist. Outside of this range only one phase can exist in the
prevailing conditions.
Compression volume control Capacity control of a heat pump based on
adjusting the compression volume. The length of the active part of the
rotor is controlled by means of a slide valve, as a result of which only part
of the rotor is used to compress the refrigerant. This control is not efficient
under 60% part load.
Compressor One of the main components of a gas engine heat pump.
The compressor compresses the refrigerant and reduces the pressure on
the suction side, thus lowering the boiling point of the refrigerant.

Definitions

Condenser Heat exchanger used in heat pumps. The condenser transfers


condensation heat from the refrigerant to the environment.
Direct expansion The refrigerant is used as a transport medium and
expands in the room that requires cooling; the refrigerant cools the air in
the room.
Distribution medium The medium that transports heat or cold from a
boiler or a heat pump to the required areas in a building. In the Netherlands
the distribution medium (or transfer medium) is generally water. In the
utility building sector air is also used as a distribution medium. In countries
where cooling is important (such as in Japan) the refrigerant itself is also
used for distribution purposes.
Dry-bulb temperature Method to determine atmospheric humidity.
Two thermometers are placed in an air current (minimum speed: 5 m/s).
A cotton sock connected to a water reservoir via a cotton thread is
fitted around one of the thermometer bulbs. The difference between the
temperatures shown on the thermometers is a measure of the humidity
in the air current.
Economiser Flue gas condenser with which the efficiency of a gas heat
pump can be improved.
Efficiency Ratio between useful energy and supplied energy.
Evaporator Heat exchanger used in heat pumps. The evaporator absorbs
heat from the environment and uses it to evaporate the refrigerant.
Excess air Excess air applies when more air is added to a combustion
engines fuel-air mixture than required for stoichiometric combustion. The
air factor in case of excess air is > 1.
Expansion valve (or thermal expansion valve) One of the main components of a heat pump. An expansion valve is a constriction in the
refrigerant pipe between the condenser (upstream) and the evaporator,
causing the pressure to drop. These valves are available in two models:
electronic expansion valves and thermostatic expansion valves.
External heat load External heat source that helps to heat a room,
usually solar heat, which varies depending on such matters as the time of
day and clouding.

Four-way valve Valve connected to four pipes; it separates two flows.


Generator temperature The temperature a sorption heat pump uses to
extract the refrigerant from the sorbent and refrigerant mixture by means
of evaporation.
Ground-coupled heat exchanger A pipe laid horizontally or vertically in
the ground through which a work medium extracts heat or cold from the
ground.
Heating limit Highest outdoor temperature at which a building must still
be heated to achieve a comfortable indoor temperature. The heating limit
for most buildings is approximately 15 C.
Heating curve Relation between the outdoor temperature and the
required supply temperature for the heating radiators and/or the required
heating capacity.
HE boiler High efficiency boiler; a central-heating boiler that achieves a
higher efficiency than a standard central-heating boiler. Condensing HE
boilers can achieve efficiencies of up to 109% of lower heating value (at
30% of nominal capacity, a water return temperature of 30 C and a supply
temperature of 36 C).
Hunting Unstable expansion valve due to the superheating temperature
being set too low.
Hydrocarbons Chemical compounds consisting mainly of carbon (C) and
hydrogen (H). Examples are natural gas and liquid fossil fuels.
Intercooler Heat exchanger facilitating the exchange of heat between
the evaporator and the condenser. The use of an intercooler improves the
heat transfer in the evaporator and the condenser.
Internal control circuit Synchronises the various heat pump components.
Internal heat load All internal heat sources that contribute to heating a
space, such as lighting, computers, televisions and people.
Liquid-vapour line graph Graph indicating the limits of the co-existence
range.

157

Gas Heat Pumps

Low temperature system Central-heating system designed for a temperature range of 45 C/30 C for example; therefore considerably lower than
the usual range of 90 C/70 C.
Main control Capacity control that adjusts the capacity of an installation
to the heating or cooling demand.
Misfiring Misfiring occurs when the fuel-air mixture in a combustion
engine fails to ignite.

Return temperature Temperature of the central-heating water returning


from the radiators.
Reversible A heat pump is reversible when it can be used for heating
as well as cooling purposes by reversing the direction of the flow of
refrigerant.
Rich mixture Indication of the fuel-air ratio for a combustion engine. A
rich mixture contains a proportionally large amount of fuel; a poor mixture
contains a relatively large amount of air.

Night setting Setting a lower room temperature for periods when a


certain room is not used. The night setting in dwellings generally starts late
in the evening. In offices the night setting often kicks in early in the evening.

Sankey diagram A flow diagram depicting several flows (of energy, for
example) providing insight into the volume and direction of the flows.

Otto engine Popular type of combustion engine based on the internal


combustion principle. Named after Nikolaus August Otto, who invented
the concept in 1862.

Shaft efficiency The efficiency of an engine or gas engine, defined as


the quotient of the outgoing power, measured at the shaft, and incoming
power in the form of fuel.

Peak demand Maximum energy demand. Heat demand in buildings


peaks upon low ambient temperatures and little solar heat; demand for
cooling peaks upon high ambient temperatures and much solar heat.

Single stage In the case of a sorption heat pump single stage indicates
that the refrigerant in the evaporator is heated by the source medium. The
alternative is a double stage sorption heat pump.

Phase transition Transition of a substance from one aggregation state to


another, for example from liquid to vapour phase.

Sorbent A means used in sorption heat pumps that attracts the


refrigerant.

Poor mixture Indication of the fuel-air ratio for a combustion engine. A


rich mixture contains a proportionally large amount of fuel; a poor mixture
contains a relatively large amount of air.

Source temperature The temperature of the medium the heat pump


uses as a heat source (usually air or water).

Pre-heating supplement Additional capacity that is taken into account


when determining the capacity to be installed. The pre-heating supplement
is necessary for raising the temperature in the building quickly to the
required level when the heat demand increases suddenly.
Pressure gas circulation Capacity control adjusting the flow in the cooling
cycle. The transferred compressor volume remains unchanged.
Pulse-pause control A control that switches a device on and off within
the cycle time. The switch pattern depends on the demand.
Radiator Heat exchanger comprising a series of finned pipes. Air or liquid
is forced through the pipes.

158

Speed control Capacity control based on varying the number of revolutions of an engine or compressor. Speed control is possible up to the point
that the beats of the piston movement start to disturb the process.
Stoichiometric combustion Combustion with just enough air to completely combust the supplied fuel in a combustion engine.
Substance pair Combination of refrigerant and absorbent/adsorbent
that is suitable for enabling a sorption heat pump to operate.
Superheating Difference between the temperature at which the refrigerant evaporates and the actual (higher) temperature of the vapour in the
evaporator. In most heat pumps the vapour is slightly overheated to keep it
from condensing too soon in the pipe to the condenser.

Definitions

Supply temperature Temperature of central-heating water supplied to


the distribution system.
Temperature conditions Combination of data pertaining to the temperature of the heat source and the temperature level of the heat output. The
temperature conditions are contributory to the efficiency (COP) of the heat
pump.
Temperature lift Increase or decrease in temperature (difference between
source temperature and transfer temperature) that a heat pump can realise.
Top-cooling Cooling to 5 C below the outdoor temperature.
Unburned hydrocarbons Hydrocarbons still present in the flue gases
after the combustion process.
Undercooling Difference between the condensation temperature and
the temperature at which condensation exits the condenser. Undercooling
prevents the formation of vapour bubbles in the refrigerant before it passes
through the expansion valve.
Valve lifting Capacity control of a reciprocating compressor by lifting
the piston valve(s) during the compression stroke. As a result some of the
ingested gas is conducted back to the suction pipe.
Water-air heat pump Heat pump that uses water as a heat source and
air as a transfer medium.
Water-water heat pump Heat pump that uses water as a heat source
and a separate water circuit for transferring heat or cold.
Wet-bulb temperature Method to determine atmospheric humidity.
Two thermometers are placed in an air current (minimum speed: 5 m/s). A
cotton sock connected to a water reservoir via a cotton thread is fitted
around one of the thermometer bulbs. The difference between the temperatures shown on the thermometers is a measure of the humidity in the
air current.
White frost Icing over as a result of vapour in the air freezing onto a
solid surface.

159

Gas Heat Pumps

Conversion tables

SI units

Prefixes

Symbol

Name

Unit

Multiple

Prefix

Symbol

Speed

m/s (metre per second)

1012

tera

Mass

kg (kilogramme)

109

giga

Acceleration

m/s2 (metre per second squared)

106

mega

Force

N (Newton)

103

kilo

Pressure

Pa (Pascal)

102

hecto

Weight

N (Newton)

10

deca

da

Energy

J (Joule)

10-1

deci

Power

W (Watt)

10-2

centi

10-3

milli

10-6

micro

10-9

nano

10-12

pico

10-15

femto

10-18

atto

Source: Agentschap NL

Afgeleide eenheden
Name

Unit

Speed

v = distance / time [m/s]

Acceleration

a = speed (change) / time [m/s ]

Force

F = mass * acceleration = m*a [N]


1 N = 1 kgm/s2
1 kgf = 9.81 N = 9.81 kgm/s2

Pressure

1 Pa (pascal) = 1 N/m2 = 1 kg/(m/s2)

Work

Work = force * distance


1 kgm/s2 * m = 1 kgm2/s2
1 J = 1 Nm = 1 kgm2/s2

Power

Power = work time


1 W = 1 J/s = 1 kgm2/s3 = 1 Nm/s = 1 J/s

Energy

1 kcal = 4.19 * 103 J = 4.19 kJ


1 kWh = 1000 Wh = 1000 * 3600 Ws
(1 hour = 3600 s)
= 1000 x 3600 J/s * s
= 3,600.000 J
= 3.6 MJ (Megajoule)

Source: Agentschap NL

160

Conversion examples of energy units


Energy units
1 EJ = 1018 J
1 TWh = 1012 Wh = 109 kWh
1 MJ = 0.278 kWh
1 EJ = 278 TWh
1 kWh = 3.6 MJ
1 tep (ton equivalent petroleum) = 11,600 kWh
1 Mtep = 106 tep
1 b (barrel) = 159 litres petroleum = 140 kilos petroleum = 1,700 kWh
1 Gb = 0.14 Gton

Conversion tables

Conversion table to natural gas equivalents

Conversion factors for fuels

Nm stands for normal cubic metres of natural gas, i.e. measured at


a standard temperature (0 C) and standard pressure (1 atmosphere).
The power company calculates the gas consumption of each customer
on the basis of this normal cubic metre. To convert the various forms
of energy into Nm3 of natural gas equivalents the following conversion
factors apply:
3

Energy

Natural gas equivalent

Fuel

Unit

Natural gas
equivalent (Nm3)

Electric power (discounting the loss in the


power station)

kW

0.26

Domestic fuel oil

litre

1.20

Fuel oil

litre

1.30

Coal

kg

0.93

Liquid propane

litre

0.73

LPG (road transport)

litre

0.95

Diesel

litre

1.13

Petrol

litre

1.04

Hydrogen

kg

4.00

Dry timber

kg

0.48

1 kWh electricity

0.26

Nm natural gas equivalent

1 litre domestic fuel oil

1.2

Nm natural gas equivalent

1 ton fuel oil

1,300

Nm3 natural gas equivalent

1 ton coal

925

Nm natural gas equivalent

1 litre liquid propane

0.73

Nm natural gas equivalent

1 litre LPG

0.95

Nm3 natural gas equivalent

1 litre diesel

1.13

Nm3 natural gas equivalent

1 litre petrol for road transport

1.04

Nm3 natural gas equivalent

1 m3 natural gas not from Groningen

X*

Nm3 natural gas equivalent

1 kg gaseous H2

4.0

Nm3 natural gas equivalent

Primary liquid fossil fuels

1 ton gaseous O2

104

Nm3 natural gas equivalent

Crude

kg

42.7

73.3

1 ton liquid O2

260

Nm3 natural gas equivalent

Natural gas condensate

kg

44.0

63.1

1 ton gaseous N2

65

Nm3 natural gas equivalent

Secondary liquid fossil fuels

1 ton liquid N2

208

Nm3 natural gas equivalent

1 ton liquid CO2

49

Nm3 natural gas equivalent

Engine petrol

kg

44.0

72

Aviation kerosene

kg

43.5

71.5

Petroleum

kg

43.1

71.9

Shale oil

kg

36.0

73.3

Gas oil / diesel oil

kg

41.7

74.3

Heavy fuel oil

kg

41.0

77.4

LPG

kg

45.2

66.7

Ethane

kg

45.2

61.6

Naphthas

kg

44.0

73.3
80.7

3
3

3
3

* Factor X follows from the lower heating value in MJ/ Nm3 of the deployed natural gas divided
by 31.65 MJ/ Nm3.

Source: Agentschap NL

Emissions per fuel unit


Fuel/boiler

Unit

CO2
(kg)

NOX
(g)

SO2
(g)

Acid unit

Source: EIA Scheme 2003, Agentschap NL

Netherlands fuels and standard CO2 emission factors


Main category

Unit

Heating
value

CO2 emission
factor (kg/GJ)

Gas (conventional)

m3

1.780

2.00

0.016

0.04450

Bitumen

kg

41.9

Gas (low NOX)

m3

1.780

0.55

0.016

0.01260

Lubricants

kg

41.4

73.3

Domestic fuel oil

litre

2.700

2.90

6.000

0.25000

Petroleum coke

kg

35.2

100.8

Electricity

kWh

0.574

0.15

0.425

0.01648

Refinery raw materials

kg

44.8

73.3

Refinery gas

kg

45.2

66.7

Chemical residual gas

kg

45.2

66.7

Other oils

kg

40.2

73.3

Anthracite

kg

26.6

98.3

Coke

kg

28.7

94.0

Coke (Coke ovens)

kg

28.7

95.4

Coke (Basic metal)

kg

28.7

89.8

(Other bituminous) coal

kg

24.5

94.7

Source: EIA Regulation 2003, Agentschap NL

Primary solid fossil fuels

161

Gas Heat Pumps

Main category

Unit

Heating
value

CO2 emission
factor (kg/GJ)

Sub-bituminous coal

kg

20.7

96.1

Brown coal

kg

20.0

101.2

Bituminous shale

kg

9.4

106.7

Peat

kg

10.8

106.0

Coal and brown coal briquettes

kg

23.5

94.6

Coke oven/gas coke

kg

28.5

111.9

Coke oven gas

MJ

1.0

41.2

Blast furnace gas

MJ

1.0

247.4

Oxygen steel furnace gas

MJ

1.0

191.9

Phosphorus furnace gas

Nm3

11.6

149.5

Natural gas

Nm3

31.7

56.8

Carbon monoxide

Nm3

12.6

155.2

Methane

Nm3

35.9

54.9

Hydrogen

Nm3

10.8

0.0

Biomass solid

kg

15.1

109.6

Biomass liquid

kg

39.4

71.2

Biomass gaseous

Nm3

21.8

90.8

RWZI* biogas

Nm3

23.3

84.2

Landfill gas

Nm3

19.5

100.7

Industrial fermentation gas

Nm3

23.3

84.2

kg

34.4

73.6

Secondary solid fossil fuels

Gaseous fossil fuels

Biomass

Other fuels
Waste (not biogenic)

* Rijkswaterstaat Zuiveringsinstallatie (Department of Public Works Purification Plant)

Source: Agentschap NL 2007

162

List of abbreviations and symbols

List of abbreviations and symbols

CFK Chlorofluorocarbon. Category of compounds widely used as a


propellant in aerosols and as a refrigerant. CFKs are harmful to the ozone
layer when they are discharged into the atmosphere and are therefore no
longer used.

PER Primary Energy Ratio. The PER indicates how many units of primary
energy (for example natural gas) are needed to deliver one unit of heat. By
means of the PER, gas-fired heat pumps and electric heat pumps can be
compared more accurately based on the COP.

CV Central space heating.

W.., B.., A.. Letter and number combinations used to typify heat pumps.
W stands for water, B for brine and A for air. The value after the letter
indicates the (supply) temperature of the relevant medium. The combination
for the heat source is usually stated first, followed by the combination for
the transfer medium. Source and transfer medium are separated in this
document by means of a hyphen.

COP Coefficient of Performance, a measure for the efficiency of a heat


pump. The COP indicates how many units of useful energy can be supplied
for each unit of paid energy (for example natural gas).
GWP Global Warming Potential. The GWP indicates a substances greenhouse effect as compared to that of carbon dioxide (CO2). The GWP of CO2
equals 1.
ODP Ozone Depletion Potential. By definition, the ODP of trichlorofluoromethane (R-11) is equal to 1 for a period of 100 years; that of CFKs is
also around 1. The ODP of chemicals with bromine is considerably higher,
measuring values of between 5 and 15.
mechanical Mechanical efficiency, for example of a gas engine.
central Efficiency of central electricity generation.

163

Gas Heat Pumps

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164

Harmsen R., M. Hammerlink, Duurzame warmte en koude 2008 2020


(Sustainable heating and cooling 2008 2020). Utrecht: Ecofys.

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165

Gas Heat Pumps

Index

Absorption pump 27, 28, 56, 58, 68-70, 89


Additional energy 28
Air/air heat pump 24, 25
Air/water heat pump 25
Air factor 92, 93, 156, 157
Ambient air 21, 24, 37, 41, 43, 67, 80, 82, 89, 101, 132, 134, 136, 140,
142, 144, 146, 148, 156
Ammonia-water mixture 54
Antifreeze 89, 91, 107, 156
Aquifer system 138
ASUE (Arbeitsgemeinschaft fr Sparsamen und Umweltfreundlichen
Energieverbrauch ) 56, 164
Base load 31, 67, 77, 79, 123
Biogas 16, 162
Bivalent 40, 77, 78, 131, 154
Blocks of flats /apartment buildings 131, 138
Borehole 60
Buffer 79-81, 131, 134, 140, 146
Building management system 84, 132, 134, 136, 138, 140, 142, 144, 146,
148
Capacity 22, 24, 27-31, 34, 42, 43, 46-48, 50, 51, 55-57, 63, 64, 70-72,
77, 79, 80, 82, 83, 87, 90, 91, 93-96, 98, 100, 102, 105, 106, 108110, 112, 113, 120, 122-126, 134, 136, 138, 140, 142, 144, 146, 148,
156-159

166

Capacity control 94, 95, 156, 158, 159


Care sector 19-21, 30, 73, 116
Carnot factor 156
Cascade 22, 23, 144, 156
CE label 35, 116
CE mark 35
Central-heating boiler 21, 22, 30-32, 35, 59, 79, 117, 120, 134, 136, 140,
146, 157
CHP 10, 21, 40-42, 46, 47, 50, 56, 60, 64
Cinema 26, 131-133
Cogeneration 10
Co-heating 77, 152, 153, 155
Co-heating facility 77, 153
Cold water systems 22
Collective system 11, 34, 105, 116
Component 37, 41, 42, 44, 46, 84, 87, 92, 94, 109, 117, 123, 140, 156,
157
Compressor heat pump 41
Compressor 23, 41-43, 53, 68, 70, 87, 88, 90-92, 94-97, 100, 102, 104-106,
109, 110, 112, 113, 156, 158, 159
Condenser/condensing unit 87-89, 157
Condensing HE boiler 87-89, 157
Control 22-25, 73-79, 83, 84, 87, 89, 92, 94-96, 100, 101, 105, 106, 108111, 132, 136, 138, 140, 152-154, 156-159

Index

Convector 112, 120


Cooling 19-23, 25, 27, 29-31, 33, 35, 36, 40, 42, 43, 46-51, 54-58, 59-61,
64, 69-71, 72-74, 76-78, 80, 83, 88-91, 100-102, 105, 107, 109, 112,
113, 115, 116, 119, 128, 131, 132, 134, 136, 138, 144, 146, 148, 151,
153-159, 164
Cooling capacity 27, 30, 50, 57, 64, 70, 71, 112
Cooling demand 33, 72-75, 77, 109, 131, 144, 158
COP (coefficient of performance) 29, 39, 40, 42, 51, 54, 56, 57, 60, 61,
63, 64, 68, 69, 88, 89, 92-94, 100, 107, 109, 151-153, 155, 159, 163
Costs of energy 115-117, 121, 122, 126, 128
Coverage percentage 120, 152, 154, 155
CO2 emission 10, 14, 15, 28, 29, 37, 67, 115, 120, 136, 144, 161
Defrost 89
Demonstration project 131
Dental clinic 134
Design 25, 27, 31, 35, 37, 52, 54, 67, 70, 73, 74, 77-79, 82, 83-84, 89-92,
101, 108, 109, 116, 132, 134, 136, 138, 140, 142, 144, 146, 148
Design aspects 67, 77
Direct expansion 24, 35, 132, 134, 136, 157
Distribution 19, 20, 23-25, 27, 31, 34, 36, 37, 40, 43, 60, 68, 72, 76, 78-81,
91, 98, 102, 105, 106, 112, 116, 117, 119, 120, 122-124, 132, 138,
148, 151, 153, 154, 157, 159
Domestic water 138, 154
Double-effect 56, 57, 63, 107
Double U-tube configuration 82
Dry-bulb temperature 89, 157
Dutch Association for Underground Energy 82
Economy 8, 10, 13, 16, 19, 20
Economical 8, 14, 34, 35,74, 79, 101, 105, 106
Education 21, 36, 72, 116
Efficiency 9, 10, 13, 14, 19, 21, 22,25, 27-29, 31, 35, 37, 39, 40, 42-44, 46,
48, 51, 54, 55, 60, 67-70, 72, 75, 77-79, 82, 87-89, 91-96, 101, 108110, 120, 121, 126, 131, 134, 136, 142, 144, 148, 156-159, 163, 165
Electrical heat pump 24
Electrically driven 24, 50, 120, 151, 153, 155
Electricity grid 11, 19, 28, 31, 40, 73, 91, 115
Electronic expansion valve 24, 96, 98, 99, 157
Emission 10, 13-15, 28, 29, 37, 43, 67, 92, 93, 115, 120, 136, 144, 161
EN12309 89
Energetic performance 37, 77, 78, 82, 84, 151, 153
Energy cost 70, 74, 84, 116, 117, 122, 126, 127, 136
Energy saving 15, 28, 29, 31, 37, 116, 120, 131

Energy performance 21, 35-37, 40, 67, 116, 132, 134, 136, 138, 140, 142,
144, 146, 148, 165
Energy Performance Regulation for Buildings 40
Energy supply 8, 14, 15, 117, 128, 132, 134, 136, 138, 140, 142, 144, 146,
148, 165, 170
Energy transition 9, 10, 13, 14, 16, 164
Engine-driven 24, 25, 39-44
Environmental impact 8, 28, 120
European Standard 89
Evaporator Fixed value
Excess air 87, 92, 134, 157
Exhaust air 106
Existing building 19, 20, 31, 33, 35, 67, 70, 73-76, 83, 120, 128
Expansion valve 24, 42, 43, 90, 92, 96, 98-100, 109, 157, 159
Exploitation calculation 124
Feasibility 48, 116, 117, 120, 132
Financing 126, 127
Fitness 4, 136, 137
Floor cooling 57
Floor heating 23, 57
Free cooling 80, 83
Gas absorption heat pump 24, 27, 28, 32, 37, 56, 59, 89, 105-107, 117,
119, 131, 138-143
Gas-driven 25, 31, 35, 37, 43, 50, 61, 67, 68, 72, 75, 80, 152, 153, 155
Gas engine 23-28, 35, 37, 39-43, 68-70, 75, 78, 80, 87-95, 102, 104-106,
108, 112, 113, 117, 119, 121,131-134, 136, 137, 144-148, 156, 158,
163, 164
Gas engine heat pump 23-28, 35, 37, 40, 68-70, 75, 78, 80, 89-95, 102,
104-106, 108, 112, 117, 119, 121, 131, 134-137, 144-148, 156
Gas supply 15
Generator temperature 89, 157
Green gas 9, 11, 16, 21, 67
Greenhouse gas 15
Ground-coupled 60, 61, 82, 83, 88, 106, 107, 157
Ground source 21, 24, 25, 27, 30
Ground water 37, 41, 42, 106, 138
GWP (Global warming potential) 102, 163
Heat and cold storage 74, 75, 138, 148
Heat demand 19, 20, 31, 33, 34, 50, 70, 72-75, 79, 80, 105, 106, 110, 120,
124, 126, 146, 154, 158
Heat exchange 55
Heat factor 94, 95

167

Gas Heat Pumps

Heating 9, 10, 13, 19-23, 25, 27, 29-31, 33-37, 39, 40, 42, 43, 46, 48, 51,
54-58, 60, 61, 64, 68-81, 83, 87-91, 93-95, 101, 102, 105, 106, 108113, 115-117, 119, 128, 131, 132, 134, 136, 138, 140, 142, 144, 146,
148, 151, 153-155, 157, 158, 161, 164, 165
Heating curve 79, 80, 110-112, 157
Heating function 77, 154
Heat output 159
Heat pump 9, 11, 19, 21, 23-37, 39-65, 67-84, 87-96, 98, 100-113, 115117, 119-124, 126, 131-148, 151-159, 163-165
Heat source 21, 42, 59, 60, 67, 80, 82, 83, 89, 90, 98, 100, 101, 106-108,
120, 132, 134, 136, 138, 140, 142, 144, 146, 148, 156-158, 163
Hotel 19, 21, 36, 55, 72, 74, 75
Hunting 100, 157
Hydro module 25, 26, 91, 117, 149
Hydrocarbon 92, 157, 159
Industrial halls 72
Insulation measures 15, 31
Integrated design 70
Intercooler 101-103, 157
Internal control 109, 157
Investment costs 24, 77, 115, 121, 127
Investment subsidy 121
Leisure and accommodation industry 21, 30
Liquid-vapour line 100, 156, 157
Liquid sorption system 54
Lithium bromide 54, 56, 68, 113
Low temperature heat 39, 44, 56, 60, 88
Maintenance 27, 68, 70, 84, 92-94, 115, 117, 121, 122, 126-128
Maintenance costs 70, 121, 122, 126
Mechanical compressor 68, 70
Methane 14, 92, 162
Micro CHP 10
Misfiring 92, 158
Natural gas 8-11, 13-16, 19-21, 28, 29, 31, 35, 39, 41-43, 45, 49-51, 58,
67, 68, 87, 88, 106, 116, 117, 122-126, 132, 134, 136, 138, 140, 142,
144, 146, 148, 153, 154, 157, 161-164, 170
New buildings 30, 31, 33, 36, 37, 67, 73-76
NVOE 82
ODP (Ozone Depletion Potential) 102, 163
Offices 19-21, 30, 31, 34, 72, 74, 76, 116, 132, 136, 146, 148, 158, 165
Office building 21, 29, 36, 59, 74, 75, 134
Optimisation 102, 108, 109, 128

168

Otto engine 41, 92, 158


Peak demand 31, 34, 67, 77, 90, 91, 158
PER (Primary Energy Ratio) 29, 40, 46, 50, 68, 70, 71, 80, 88, 89, 106, 120,
163
PER value 88, 89
Power supply 13, 21, 94, 106
Preferential 77, 115
Primary Energy Ratio 29, 40, 68, 88, 153, 155, 163
Pulse-pause control 110, 11, 158
Quality label 35
Radiator 34, 78, 79, 83, 91, 106, 110, 112, 138, 140, 157, 158
Raise in temperature 108
Reciprocating compressor 94, 96, 109, 159
Reference building 73-75
Refrigerant 24, 41-43, 52-54, 58, 59, 68, 78, 89, 90-92, 94, 96, 98, 100103, 107, 109, 112, 113, 117, 156-159, 163
Reliability 21, 27, 68, 73-75, 83, 93
Restaurant 21, 72
Retail sector 30, 75, 76
Return temperature 87, 106, 110, 157, 158
Reversible 56, 60, 112, 158
Room thermostat 79
Rotary vane compressor 94, 96, 97
Sankey diagram 80, 90, 105, 107, 108, 158
Screw compressor 96, 97, 105, 110
Scroll compressor94, 96, 104, 117
Shaft efficiency 93, 158
Shopping centre 77, 131, 144, 145
Shops 19, 21, 34, 36, 72, 75, 76, 116, 144,165
Silica gel 58-61, 113
Single-effect 56, 107
Slochteren 13, 21
Sorbent 52-54, 56-59, 61-63, 157, 158
Sorption principle 87
Source system 80, 82
Source temperature 42, 55, 56, 77, 82, 89, 158
SPF (Seasonal Performance Factor) 151-155
Sports facilities 21, 36, 72, 131
Stirling cycle 44-46
Stirling engine 44-47
Stoichiometric combustion 156-158
Substances pair 68, 113

Index

Superheating 96, 98, 100-102, 157, 158


Supermarkets 75, 76
Supply temperature 61, 73, 78, 80, 87, 108, 110, 120, 157, 159
Sustainable 8, 10, 11, 13-16, 21, 27, 28, 30, 33, 34, 67, 72, 80, 116, 120,
121, 131, 146, 164
Swimming pool 20, 21, 27, 29, 34, 72, 131, 132, 136, 140-143
Switch buffer 79, 80
System overview 90
TCO (total cost of ownership) 70, 120, 121, 126, 127
Temperature condition 48, 69, 89, 159
Temperature level 23, 28, 39, 44, 46, 48, 50, 53, 54, 56, 68, 74, 78-80, 90,
102, 105, 107, 119, 120, 159
Thermal compressor 68, 70
Thermally driven 52, 53
Thermo-acoustic 44, 47-52
Thermostatic expansion valve 96, 98, 99, 157
Transfer system 132, 134, 136, 138, 140, 142, 144, 146, 148
Transition fuel 15, 164
Transport medium 41, 43, 157
Unburned hydrocarbons 92, 159
Undercooling 100, 102, 159
Underground energy storage 82
Utility sector 19, 72, 131
Vertical ground-coupled heat exchanger 82, 83
VRF system 24, 25, 43, 78, 91
VRF (variable refrigerant flow) 24, 25, 43, 78, 91, 136
Vuilleumier 44, 50-52
Water temperatures 34
Water-water heat pump 106, 159
Wet-bulb temperature 89, 159
White frost 69, 90, 159
Work-driven 52
Zeolite 58, 60-62, 113

169

Gas Heat Pumps

Corporate statement GasTerra

GasTerra is an international company trading in natural gas. It operates on the European energy
market and has a significant share of the Dutch gas market. It also provides gas-related services.
The company has a strong purchasing position and has over 40 years experience in purchasing and
selling natural gas.
GasTerra fulfils a public role regarding the implementation of the Dutch governments small
fields policy. The aim of this policy is to promote the production of Dutch natural gas from the
smaller gas fields. GasTerra is customer-oriented and strives to maintain long-term relationships with
market players and to put in place sales contracts which express the market value of natural gas and
related services.
GasTerra is committed to sustainable development as a guiding principle for its strategy and actions.
The economic and social value of natural gas as a source of energy gives the company an important
role in utilising the domestic gas reserves and in energy supply in the Netherlands and the EU.
GasTerra promotes the safe and efficient consumption of natural gas and takes active steps to develop
further applications. The company recognises the great importance of a transition to sustainable
energy supplies and initiates projects in that context.
Our actions are based on our code of conduct, the cornerstones of which are integrity and respect.

170

The World of Natural Gas


The series The World of Natural Gas is an initiative by GasTerra, the largest natural gas trading company
in the Netherlands and the third gas supplier of the European Union. This series is about the meaning,
applications and future of natural gas. In this time of complex discussions about climate change, energy
consumption, resources and technical solutions, GasTerra aims to inform interested parties of the facts
of natural gas and the key developments in the field of energy.
Gas Heat Pumps
Gas Heat Pumps efficient heating and cooling with natural gas is the fourth publication in the
series The World of Natural Gas. This publication deals with the application of natural gas in heat
pumps. Gas heat pumps are perfectly suited to modern climate control systems in existing and new
public and commercial buildings. The gas heat pump technology is exceptionally efficient in nearly
all applications, as heat pumps for heating and cooling make good use of ambient heat that would
otherwise remain unused.
Other publications in this GasTerra series deal with natural gas and transition, cogeneration and the
history of natural gas in the Netherlands. These previous publications are available upon request.
Knowledge is power. GasTerra would like to share this power.