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A Propane Hydronic Heat Pump with Energy Storage...

by Bo Shen, Zhenning Li, Hanlong Wan, Kyle R Gluesenkamp, Brian A Fricke
Publication Type
Conference Paper
Book Title
Proceedings of 26th International Congress of Refrigeration
Publication Date
Page Numbers
1 to 8
Conference Name
26th International Congress of Refrigeration (ICR)
Conference Location
Paris, France
Conference Sponsor
international refrigeration institute
Conference Date

Propane is an environment-friendly refrigerant, having a 20-year GWP (global warming potential) of 0.072 and a 100-year GWP of 0.02, as compared to R-410A having a GWP > 2000. It has superior thermodynamic cycle performance and heat transfer characteristics. However, propane is classified as a A3 refrigerant, which is highly flammable, and not allowed to be used indoor if the system charge is higher than 150 grams. It is a challenge to use propane in residential applications requiring a rated capacity larger than 10 k Watts. A hydronic heat pump, i.e., containing propane in an outdoor unit and distributing the cooling and heating capacity through a hydronic coil to the indoor space addresses the flammability issue, while maintaining a high efficiency. We developed a hydronic heat pump with propane, it uses a two-stage compressor, a brazed plate indoor heat exchanger, and a microchannel outdoor heat exchanger. It achieves a rated cooling capacity larger than 10 k Watts, and a cooling SEER (cooling seasonal energy efficiency rating) > 16.0 (cooling seasonal COP > 4.7) and a heating HSPF (heating seasonal performance factor) > 9.5 (heating seasonal COP > 2.78), while requiring a system charge < 1200 grams. Additionally, the hydronic heat pump was evaluated in a laboratory water heating loop to heat a 50-gallon water tank in a full condensing mode. Experiments of heating the tank water from 58F(14.4°C) to 150F(65.6°C) were conducted under ambient temperatures from 17F(-8.3°C) to 75F(23.9°C), at the compressor high and low stages.