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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

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Pumping Heat

Pumping Heat


Heatpump exchange diagram (credit: Heliotherm)


Energy systems that rely on temperature differentials, particularly located underground (geothermal), offer innovative, renewable, and practical ways to replace heating from burning fossil fuels like coal and natural gas. The system only requires a heat pump that circulates the heat generated with a refrigerant and compressor. The technology combines both old and new components and commercial units are already available on the market.

The basic technology adapts the 1st Law of Thermodynamics which states that: energy can neither be created nor destroyed. It can, however, be converted from one form into another such as turning hot air into cold or vise a versa. It is the basic physics behind how air conditioners work and which are used everywhere in homes, offices, and hotels worldwide. With a heat pump, cold water is cycled through a series of filter layers, and in the process the water's thermal energy is converted from a liquid to a gas. As the gas expands it becomes heated and is dispersed from the pump into a living space. The principal is explained with an animation:

Heat pumps are adaptable for uses small and large. Two of the well known contractors with the popular home remodeling series on public television, This Old House, demonstrate:

Like electrical power generated from solar panels, heat pumps are a renewable, sustainable, and clean source of energy. With costs from using fossil fuels rising, including environmental concerns for air and water pollution hazards, what's not to like about pumping heat instead?


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