Development of an electric heat pump for domestic use

  • D.R. Crossman

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis records the design and development of an electrically driven, air to water, vapour compression heat pump of nominally 6kW heat output, for residential space heating. The study was carried out on behalf of GEC Research Ltd through the Interdisciplinary Higher Degrees Scheme at Aston University. A computer based mathematical model of the vapour compression cycle was produced as a design aid, to enable the effects of component design changes or variations in operating conditions to be predicted. This model is supported by performance testing of the major components, which revealed that improvements in the compressor isentropic efficiency offer the greatest potential for further increases in cycle COPh. The evaporator was designed from first principles, and is based on wire-wound heat transfer tubing. Two evaporators, of air side area 10.27 and 16.24m2, were tested in a temperature and humidity controlled environment, demonstrating that the benefits of the large coil are greater heat pump heat output and lower noise levels. A systematic study of frost growth rates suggested that this problem is most severe at the conditions of saturated air at 0oC combined with low condenser water temperature. A dynamic simulation model was developed to predict the in-service performance of the heat pump. This study confirmed the importance of an adequate radiator area for heat pump installations. A prototype heat pump was designed and manufactured, consisting of a hermetic reciprocating compressor, a coaxial tube condenser and a helically coiled evaporator, using Refrigerant 22. The prototype was field tested in a domestic environment for one and a half years. The installation included a comprehensive monitoring system. Initial problems were encountered with defrosting and compressor noise, both of which were solved. The unit then operated throughout the 1985/86 heating season without further attention, producing a COPh of 2.34.
Date of Award1986
Original languageEnglish


  • Development
  • electric heat pump
  • domestic use

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