Xergy Inc., a high-tech startup company, is working with University of Delaware researches to build a better and more energy efficient heat pump.
A new refrigeration system has been designed that could replace the more conventional mechanical compression systems that are in most heat pumps.
About 60% of homes in the U.S. are heated using gas fired furnaces, but this new technology could lead more people to electrochemical compressors (ECCs).
According to Arch News, Ajay Prasad, director of the University of Delaware’s Center for Fuel Cell Research, and his research team contributed to the technological breakthrough.
“When Xergy approached us to collaborate on this idea, we recognized that electrochemical compressors are very similar to fuel cells,” Parsad said. “For example, ECCs employ many of the same components, including an ion-exchange membrane, gas diffusion layers, bipolar plates, and catalysts.”
The main point of this project is to lower the amount of electricity expended from heating and cooling units inside homes. Technically Delaware reports that the HVAC units in homes could now be more energy efficient, and much quieter, effectively reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
However, there are a few problems that could prevent this technology from reaching HVAC systems.
Ashish Chouhan, a graduate student at UD, explained that water, and specifically lack thereof, plays an important role in the success of this new technology.
“We are testing various membrane and catalyst layer formulations that will pump hydrogen effectively in the complete absence of water,” Chouhan said. “We are now focused on membranes made from a high-performance polymer called polybenzimidazole for this task.”
Xergy and UD researchers are optimistic that they will figure out the kinks of this new energy technology and Prasad is particularly excited about what’s to come.
“This technology has the potential to transform refrigeration systems worldwide and bring about significant environmental benefits,” Prasad said.