Joint project "Heat utilisation with solid sorption technology"

Fossil fuel and electricity use for heating and cooling are major contributors to energy consumption and emissions. The THRIVE joint project studied and developed adsorption heat pump technology to harness waste heat and renewable heat in Switzerland to substitute electricity and fossil fuels.

  • Project description (completed research project)

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    Thermally driven adsorption heat pumps represent a promising technology to utilise abundant waste heat or renewable heat to provide heating and cooling at optimal temperatures with high exergetic efficiency. Savings in both electricity consumption as well as carbon emissions related to heating and cooling are substantial compared to conventional heating and cooling technologies. However, a number of challenges have so far hindered widespread adoption of adsorption heat pumps in the field. First, application scenarios for adsorption heat pumps in the context of existing heating and cooling infrastructure are lacking or insufficiently described. Second, the use of inefficient adsorbent materials and heat exchanger designs result in large system volumes and capital cost. Third, detailed life cycle and cost analyses of adsorption heat pump technology against accepted benchmarks are lacking. Addressing these three main challenges is expected to improve understanding of relevant deployment schemes and create technical and economic incentives for adoption of adsorption heat pumps as a sustainable technology for heating and cooling.

  • Aim

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    The motivation of the THRIVE project was to contribute to the reduction of electricity consumption and CO2 emissions for heating and cooling. The key contributions were to identify applications scenarios for adsorptio n heat pumps in Switzerland, to improve adsorption heat pump technology via novel materials and materials integration, and to evaluate adsorption heat pump technology in terms of performance, sustainability and cost.

  • Results

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    Key results of the individual sub-projects were the development and demonstration of higher performance adsorbent materials, materials shaping methods for the preparation and integration of high-performance adsorbent coatings with heat exchangers, novel experimental characterisation tools and infrastructure for adsorption heat pump research from the scale of <1 W to approx. 10 kW cooling power, and a framework for sustainability and cost assessment for adsorption heat pumps across their life cycle.

  • Relevance

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    Implications for research

    The results of the individual sub-projects are impactful across various domains and were obtained in a synergistic fashion that would not have been possible without the coordinated joint project. The formulation of attractive application scenarios has led to well-defined requirements for adsorbents within the joint project but also informs materials development efforts by other groups. Novel materials research directions have been opened through the promising results reported by the sub-project teams for the sol-gel synthesis of monolithic activated carbon adsorbents and the characterisation and structuring methodologies for understanding and enhancing transport phenomena in adsorbents. In addition, important assets have been created that enable and support future research, including a one-of-a-kind modular adsorption heat pump unit with 10 kW cooling capacity as well as frameworks for sustainability assessment and life cycle costing.

    Implications for practice

    The THRIVE project has clarified the technical, environmental and economic potential of adsorption heat pumps, thereby providing substantial support for decision-making by end-users and stakeholders from industry and funding agencies. In particular, efforts to retrofit or build new thermal grids may consider the incorporation of adsorption heat pumps to improve capacity and energy efficiency. Similarly, operating costs and emissions of decentralised installations such as building heating or datacentre cooling systems may be reduced by adopting adsorption heat pump technology.

  • Original title

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    THRIVE: Thermally driven adsorption heat pumps for substitution of electricity and fossil fuels

  • Sub-projects

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    The joint project consists of five research projects

    THRIVE: Tailored materials for high-performance adsorption heat pumps External Link Icon

    • Dr. Matthias Koebel, Departement Bau- und Maschineningenieurwesen, EMPA Dübendorf; Dr. Bruno Michel, Prof. André R.Studart, Prof. Stéphane Citherlet

    THRIVE: Materials assembly for high transport rates in adsorber heat exchangers External Link Icon

    • Prof. André R. Studart, Departement Materialwissenschaft, ETH Zürich; Dr. Dominique Derome, Dr. Matthias Koebel, Dr. Bruno Michel

    THRIVE: Development of an adsorption heat pump - Component characterization and integration in compact device External Link Icon

    • Prof. Andreas Häberle, Institut für Solartechnik, Hochschule für Technik Rapperswil; Dr. Matthias Koebel, Dr. Bruno Michel, Prof. André R.Studart, Prof. Stéphane Citherlet

    THRIVE: Thermally driven adsorption heat pumps for substitution of electricity and fossil fuels: tests, simulation and validation of applications External Link Icon

    • Prof. Stéphane Citherlet, Laboratoire d'énergétique solaire et de physique du bâtiment, HEIG-VD Yverdon; Dr. Peter Burgherr, Dr. Bruno Michel

    THRIVE: Sustainability analysis of thermally driven heat conversion in Switzerland External Link Icon

    • Dr. Peter Burgherr, Laboratory for Energy Systems Analysis, Paul Scherrer Institut, Villigen; Prof. Stéphane Citherlet