As China continues its aggressive push towards clean energy and away from coal for heating applications, the opportunities for energy efficient and natural refrigerant-based heat pumps are increasing rapidly in the country, heard participants at the ATMOsphere China conference in Beijing.

Sanhua Microchannel’s R&D director, Dr. Qiang Gao, detailed a case study comparing the energy efficiency and benefits of an HFC-based heat pump versus a propane (R290)-based heat pump applied in northern China, during the Technology Case Studies session. 

Growing heat pump market in China

According to Dr. Gao’s presentation, in the northern China region, the move from coal-based to gas or electricity-based heating will create a potential market of 26 million units for domestic, industrial, and district heating systems.

“By 2021, clean energy heating will hit up to 70% of the overall heating market in the northern China region,” said Dr. Gao. 

Within this sector, Dr. Gao identified the significant opportunity for natural refrigerant-based heat pumps, especially air-sourced heat pumps for domestic use, demonstrating how much energy efficiency and CO2 emission reduction can be achieved.

Dr. Gao detailed the Energy Efficiency Ratio and charge amounts measured for a 3 HP mini-split R290 heat pump. 

The figures showed how, using Sanhua’s micro-channel heat exchangers in the R290 heat pump, it was possible to both reduce the required R290 charge while also improving on energy efficiency compared to a traditional unit running on R410A.

Dr. Gao’s presentation showed the “the use of micro-channel heat exchangers can reduce the R290 charge by 30% and achieve higher system efficiency (measured at around 7% higher EER)”.

Combining this data with projections for the increased use of electric heat pumps in China, Dr. Gao predicted that, “the amount of CO2 emissions can be reduced by 37.7 MT”.

The first ever ATMOsphere China conference on natural refrigerants took place in Beijing from 9-11 April.

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