The Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences (HKA) has established an endowed professorship for heat pump technology with funding from several industry stakeholders, according to a statement from the university.

Financial support for the position has come from German HVAC manufacturers ait-group, Bosch Thermotechnik, Stiebel Eltron and Vaillant Group, as well as Danish HVAC&R manufacture Danfoss Climate Solutions. Additional funds have been donated by BKW Management through the Valerius-Füner Foundation, added HKA.

According to the university, this will be the first professorship in Germany specializing in heat pumps.

The new teaching position will be part of the university’s Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Mechatronics. The faculty has also recently launched a bachelor’s degree in Green Technology Management, which is geared towards sustainable technologies for environmental and climate protection, including heat pumps, wind turbines and solar energy systems.

“The training of specialists and technology transfer in heat pump technology is of immense social relevance for the energy transition,” said the university. “The timing for the establishment of the endowed professorship and the new degree program is currently meeting [the] high demand.”

Rising heat pump demand

With the current energy crisis and Europe’s goal to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, heat pumps have a “key role” in decarbonization efforts, said HKA.

In fact, as part of its REPowerEU plan, the European Commission has set a target of installing 30 million heat pumps across the continent over the next seven years.

“Heat pumps with natural refrigerants powered by renewable energy are the CO2-free heating system of the future,” said Michael Kauffeld, Professor of Refrigeration Technology at HKA’s Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Mechatronics and spokesperson for the Institute of Refrigeration, Air-conditioning and Environmental Technology.

“Heat pumps with natural refrigerants powered by renewable energy are the CO2-free heating system of the future.”

Professor Michael Kauffeld, HKA

“Heat pumps are a key technology for the successful decarbonization of the building sector,” explained Dr. Rainer Lang, Group R&D Heat Pump Technology Director at Vaillant Group. “The product segment has been experiencing strong market growth for years.”

“The massive increase in demand for energy-efficient, CO2-neutral solutions for heating, cooling and air-conditioning technology shows that the market is undergoing a transformation,” added Jürgen Fischer, President of Danfoss Climate Solutions.


To meet this rapidly growing demand for heat pump technologies, education and training will have a significant role to play.

“With the boom in this sustainable heating technology, there is an enormous demand for specialists,” said Kauffeld. “It is high time to provide targeted help here. With our new degree program, we want to make a very concrete contribution to this and support the industry in this disruptive change.”

According to Edgar Timm, R&D Director of the ait-group, the “high-quality training of future specialists” is crucial if the rollout of heat pump technology is to be successful.

“By the middle of the decade, we will have invested another €300 million [US$318.9 million] in electrification,” added Dr. Thomas Finke, Technical Director of Electric Solutions at Bosch Thermotechnology. “We are therefore very pleased to be able to support the sound training of urgently needed young professionals.”

Rector Frank Artinger emphasized the importance and attractiveness of an application-oriented endowed professorship and the new degree program for green technologies at HKA, particularly considering the urgent need to decarbonize.