A prototype flexible heat pump technology engineered at the University of Glasgow is anticipated to deliver as much as 10% efficiency gains relative to current residential heating systems.

Assembled with off-the-shelf components, the new design pairs a traditional air-source heat pump configuration with integrated heat storage in the form of a small water tank. Excess thermal energy from heat pump operation is captured, stored in the tank and used at a later stage to boost efficiency, as the stored heat is considerably warmer than the external air.

According to demonstration results published in Communications Engineering, the prototype delivered a 3.7% efficiency gain compared with a traditional heat pump, at the relatively low heat supply temperature of 35° C. As supply temperature increases, so does the amount of energy recovered, improving the system’s efficiency.

An optimized system could be up to 10% more efficient than current products at a heat supply temperature of 65° C. In addition, the recovered heat stored in the water also allows the flexible heat pump to run continuously during defrosting, something most current models cannot do.

The researchers are currently seeking collaborators to continue development of their flexible heat pump technology.

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