The Heat Pump Principle

Heat Pumps History

The basic idea of the heat pump principle was expressed by Lord Kelvin already in 1852 in his second thermodynamic theorem. To understand the heat pump function, the part speaking about way of transmission of heat is the most important, as under all circumstances, its direction is from the warmer to the colder part.

The First Heat Pump

It was constructed by chance by American inventor Robert C. Webber in the late 1940s. When he was experimenting with deep freeze, he touched the freezing machine output pipe by mistake and burned his palm.

So we owe the discovery of the heat pump function to this chance. Webber then connected the outlet from his freezer to the hot-water boiler. As he still had surplus of heat, he connected the hot water to a pipe loop and started to blast warm air into his house using a small ventilator. Later on, he succeeded in deriving the heat from ground using the ground collectors. He was so pleasantly surprised by his results that he sold his old coal boiler in the following year :)

The Heat Pump Principle and Function

For Absolute Laymen

The heat pump works similarly to your refrigerator which detracts the heat from your food - it cools it down - and heats in the back side. The only difference is that the heat pump works on the opposite principle and with a greater power. It detracts the heat from the water, air or ground and creates the heat in your home using radiators or floor heating system.

For Technical Enthusiasts

At best, the heat pump principle is obvious from the following diagram:

The Heat Pump Principle

Stage One - Evaporating:

Refrigerant circulating in the heat pump detracts the heat from the air, water or ground, changing its state from liquid to gaseous and evaporating.

Stage Two - Compression:

The heat pump’s compressor compresses the several-degrees-heated gas refrigerant rapidly and multiplies the small heat gain using the physical principle (the higher pressure the higher temperature) to a higher temperature level, about 80°C.

Stage Three - Condensation:

The heated refrigerant transmits its heat to the water in radiators in the second exchanger and then it cools down and condensates. The radiators then emit the gained heat to the rooms and the water in the heating system then goes back to the exchanger to get heated again.

Stage Four - Expansion:

The refrigerant goes back to the first exchanger through the expansion valve, heating up again.

This cycle repeats constantly.
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