Mathematical modelling and optimisation of a water heat pump

  • David C. Hetherington

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The purpose of the work described here has been to seek methods of narrowing the present gap between currently realised heat pump performance and the theoretical limit.
The single most important pre-requisite to this objective is the identification and quantitative assessment of the various non-idealities and degradative phenomena responsible for the present shortfall.
The use of availability analysis has been introduced as a diagnostic tool, and applied to a few very simple, highly idealised Rankine cycle optimisation problems. From this work, it has been demonstrated that the scope for improvement through optimisation is small in comparison with the extensive potential for improvement by reducing the compressor's losses.
A fully instrumented heat pump was assembled and extensively tested. This furnished performance data, and led to an improved understanding of the systems behaviour. From a very simple analysis of the resulting compressor performance data, confirmation of the compressor's low efficiency was obtained. In addition, in order to obtain experimental data concerning specific details of the heat pump's operation, several novel experiments were performed.
The experimental work was concluded with a set of tests which attempted to obtain definitive performance data for a small set of discrete operating conditions. These tests included an investigation of the effect of two compressor modifications.
The resulting performance data was analysed by a sophisticated calculation which used that measurements to quantify each dagradative phenomenon occurring in that compressor, and so indicate where the greatest potential for improvement lies.
Finally, in the light of everything that was learnt, specific technical suggestions have been made, to reduce the losses associated with both the refrigerant circuit and the compressor.
Date of Award1988
Original languageEnglish


  • mathematical modelling
  • water heat pump
  • heat pump
  • modelling
  • equations of state
  • thermodynamics
  • compressor

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