Innovative thinking has done away with problems that have long dogged electric heat pumps — and both scientists and environmentalists are excited about the possibilities
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent energy crisis has been one of the most significant events in awakening the world to the necessity of ending its reliance on fossil fuels and moving to renewable resources of energy.
Several recent innovations aim to make a 200-year-old technology more efficient and attractive for adoption worldwide. The technology is heat pumps. More prevalent in the U.S. than overseas, heat pumps make up only 10% of heating requirements worldwide, and yet it is one of the most eco-friendly forms of heating and cooling a home.
Several recent innovations aim to make heat pump technology even more efficient than it already is, potentially opening the door for greater adoption.
Where Heat Pumps Got Their Start
Heat pump technology is much older than you'd imagine. Lord Kelvin, a British mathematician, physicist, and engineer, first proposed using heat pump systems in 1852 in a mineral extraction process. After two years of experimenting and building, the first heat pump was designed and employed for industrial use. This version worked by heating brine in order to extract salt from fluid. As energy crises occurred in the 1950s and 1970s, heat pumps grew in popularity as an alternative to fossil fuels – which is where the world finds itself again today.