LowUP success stories: GEA discusses the high-to-ultra-high efficiency heat pump development for HP-LowUP

LowUP – which stands for ‘Low valued energy sources UPgrading for buildings and industry uses’– will contribute to achieving Europe’s GHG reduction targets and increase energy efficiency.  The project will develop and demonstrate three new efficient heating and cooling technologies that will significantly reduce both CO2 emissions and primary energy consumption. Heating and cooling refers to the energy needed to warm and cool buildings, both residential and tertiary (i.e. office buildings, hospitals etc.) and includes the energy needed in nearly all industrial processes to manufacture products that we use every day. It accounts for 50% of the EU’s annual energy consumption, of which 85% comes from burning fossil fuels, mostly coal and natural gas.

Led by the Spanish firm ACCIONA, LowUP gathers 13 partners (3 large companies, 3 research and technology organisations and 7 SMEs) from 7 European countries. During 42 months, the consortium will develop and demonstrate in a relevant environment one heating and one cooling system for office buildings, and one heat recovery system for industrial processes.

GEA is one of the largest suppliers of process technology for the food industry and a wide range of other industries. It has been manufacturing high efficient natural refrigerants heat pumps for the last 10 years as sustainable heating became increasingly important.

For GEA, the LowUP project opened the opportunity to go from high efficiency to ultra high efficiency by introducing new technologies into our heat pump products. Our standard range of heat pump has a coefficient of performance (COP) of around 5.4 for a 35K temperature lift. This is 10 – 15% better efficiency than the most heat pumps on the market. LowUP created the avenue to further increase the efficiency with an additional 10% to a COP above 6.0.

In the LowUP project, we are using a new heat exchanger design and expansion valve control, which gives a higher heat transfer coefficient, so that we get better efficiency with the same size heat exchanger. This way, we’re keeping the cost the same, but improving efficiency. We have also introduced a new Control system (OMNI), which gives better accuracy and feedback on the state of the heat pump, which improves the longevity and lowers the maintenance cost of the heat pump.

Through the LowUP project, we have achieved a 20% reduction in carbon emission compared to industry standard and a 60% reduction in the lifetime of the plant compared to when using fossil fuel. The decarbonisation of the electricity grid will continue to provide reduced CO2 emissions from electrical heating. Heat pumps are the most efficient way of turning electrical energy into heating. The pilot plant built for the project delivers 300 Kw of heat and is easily scalable up to several MW of heat suitable for most industries. The LowUP project will demonstrate the heat pump technology used for different industries to recover waste heat and produce useful heating at up to 80⁰C. By demonstrating the use of heat pumps in industries which traditionally do not have heat pump installation, it is our hope that more industries will be aware of the energy, cost and environmental benefit of using industrial heat pumps compared to their traditional heating system. This should help EU achieve their carbon reduction target in the future.


About GEA

GEA Refrigeration is the expert in industrial refrigeration and heat pumps. Already since 1965 GEA Refrigeration designs, installs, maintains and optimizes refrigeration – and freeze installations for customers active in many markets, both ashore and at sea.

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GEA contact for LowUP: 

Kenneth Hoffman M.Sc.E

Product Manager Heatpumps, Process Technology Center

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