Consumption of heat pumps is on the rise. As more households install them, their importance in the market gains weight. More than 50% new homes in Switzerland have advanced heat pumps. These pumps use thermal energy stored inside the ground, or in the air, to generate heat. Further, heat pumps in houses function at near-optimal values. However, there is tremendous scope for improvement. Manufacturers can improve their efficiency replacing conventional compression systems with micro-turbo-compressors. The latter can reduce power requirement of a heat pump 25%.
Conceptualization of Turbo Compressors
The small size and high efficiency of turbo compressors is responsible for their contribution to pump performance. However, it is difficult to incorporate such a small device into the heat pump. The small diameter of turbo compressors, coupled with their fast rotation speed, makes it difficult to affix them. The Laboratory for Applied Mechanical Design at EPFL’s Microcity campus has made a key breakthrough in this regard. The research team at the laboratory developed a viable method to attach turbo compressors in heat pumps. They used machine-learning techniques to calculate the correct dimensions of turbo compressors required for different pumps. Researchers used symbolic regression to calculate the diameters.
Future Research and Predictions
The research can help in simplifying the design of heat pumps as well as turbo chargers. Cyril Picard and Violette Mounier of EPFL lead the research, using around 500,000 simulations. The research could open new doors towards the manufacture of high-efficiency heat pumps. Furthermore, the new turbo chargers would serve greater advantages as against conventional ones. The newly developed turbo-compressors could run 1,500 times faster than other types of compressors. It is expected that the use of micro-turbo-chargers would increase in the years to follow. Furthermore, conventional heat pumps could gradually move out of sight.