Innovative heating and cooling systems based on caloric effects
Keywords:Innovative heat pump, caloric effects, magnetocaloric, elastocaloric, barocaloric, electrocaloric, non-vapour-compression heat pump alternatives
Heat pumps (HPs) are an excellent solution to supply heating and cooling for indoor space conditioning and domestic hot water (DHW) production. Conventional HPs are typically electrically driven and operate with a vapour-compression thermodynamic cycle of refrigerant fluid to transfer heat from a cold source to a warmer sink. This mature technology is cost-effective and achieves appreciable coefficients of performance (COP). The HP market demand is driven up by the urge to improve the energy efficiency of building heating systems coupled with the increase of global cooling needs for air-conditioning. Unfortunately, the refrigerants used in current conventional HPs can have large greenhouse or ozone-depletion effect. Alternative gaseous refrigerants have been identified but they present some issues regarding toxicity, flammability, explosivity, low energy efficiency or high cost. However, several non-vapour-compression HP technologies have been invented and could be promising alternatives to conventional systems, with potential for higher COP and without the aforementioned refrigerant drawbacks. Among those, the systems based on the so-called “caloric effects” of solid-state refrigerants are gaining a lot of attention. The caloric effects are large entropy and adiabatic temperature changes caused by the application or removal of an external field in certain specific solid materials. There are 4 main caloric effects: magnetocaloric, elastocaloric, electrocaloric and barocaloric. Each of them is characterized by the nature of the field and the response that induces the entropy and adiabatic temperature change: variation of the magnetic field, uniaxial mechanical stress, electrical field or hydrostatic pressure, respectively. A HP cycle can be based on these caloric effects and several heating/cooling prototypes were developed and tested over the last few decades. Although not mature technologies yet, some of these caloric systems are well suited to become new efficient and sustainable solutions for indoor space conditioning and DHW production. This paper aims to raise awareness in the building community about these innovative caloric systems. It sheds some light on the recent progress in that field and compares the performance of caloric systems with that of conventional vapour-compression HPs for building applications
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