Meeting sustainability targets and saving operating costs with GEA heat pump technology

The centerpieces: GEA reciprocating and screw compressors

They are the heart and therefore literally the pump of the heat pump: GEA reciprocating and screw compressors. GEA has the largest range of high-pressure ammonia screw compressors suitable for heat pump application. Through its many heat pump installations GEA has optimized the range for low vibration levels and high efficiency. With the small cylinder reciprocating V-compressor range available for higher pressures GEA is now able to offer the most efficient ammonia compressor solution on the market. These compressors are specially designed for the high final compression pressure in a heat pump. They offer condensation temperatures which, depending on the design, are just as suitable for operating low-temperature hot water as for providing process heat.

GEA relies on environmentally friendly refrigerants

As fluorinated gases are gradually being phased out Globally to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, natural refrigerants are becoming increasingly popular, especially ammonia, an environmentally friendly refrigerant and cost-effective and has no impact on global warming or causing build-up of fluoride compounds in the nature. Ammonia is widely used in food processing plants, the beverage and dairy industries, breweries and cold stores. Thanks to improvements in compressor technology, ammonia heat pumps can now produce higher temperatures. This has paved the way for their wider use in the food, beverage and dairy industries, where waste heat can be reused and enhanced for washing, cleaning and drying products, heating water for cleaning and processing purposes, and pasteurisation.

Traditionally, these industries used boilers to cook or pasteurise products, which were then cooled down again, resulting in massive waste of energy. The heat from the cooling process was too low to be reused. However, a heat pump can raise the temperature of the refrigeration plant waste heat up to 90⁰C so that it can be returned to the cycle. This means that more fossil fuel boilers can be phased out, the heat can be regenerated or recycled, and CO2 emissions are greatly reduced - in many cases by more than 50 percent. In addition, CO2 emissions can be reduced to zero if "green electricity" is used.

Customized gear unit from GEA heat pumps is a giant step forward for the food industry

"GEA's industrial heat pumps range from 300 kW to 10 MW, which means we can handle virtually any application from hot rinse water to city-wide district heating," says Kenneth Hoffmann, Product Manager Heat Pumps, GEA Refrigeration Technologies. "But every application is different and requires a tailored approach. We have the advantage of being able to combine extensive process knowledge and expertise for integrated heating and cooling solutions. We design everything so that the heat source remains stable and permanently available, so that the use of waste heat can be optimized".

Conventional systems with gas boilers are normally designed for a much higher heat transfer medium temperature than is required in the process. This allows some inaccurate heat load calculations during design and provides only a little extra energy. 

A heat pump system requires a comprehensive analysis of the required temperatures and the evaluation of the correct process parameters. In a heat pump every degree counts and the more accurate the original design, the more energy can be saved. Instead of concentrating on small pipes with a large temperature difference to keep initial costs low, a heat pump investment is based on continuous savings that are made every day. 

"We have had excellent relationships with processing customers for decades because of the refrigeration systems we supply. This is where our roots and expertise lie," says Maarten Gelens, refrigeration expert, GEA Refrigeration Technologies Netherlands.

Robert Unsworth, Technical Sales Director GEA Refrigeration Technologies UK, added: "Together with our customers we strive for sustainability goals: to achieve energy savings and CO2 reduction. The use of heat pumps in the food, dairy and beverage sectors will be the biggest leap forward food production and refrigeration has ever seen".