German manufacturer Viessmann Group plans to soon release a new commercial version of its propane (R290)-based monobloc Vitocal air-to-water heat pumps, which will replace a previous model that employed f-gases.
The Vitocal 250A Pro heat pump, with a capacity of 40kW(11.4TR), is made for “commercial buildings, multi-family buildings or smaller non-residential buildings,” said Dr. Stephan Kolb, Regulatory Affairs Director for Viessmann Group. The unit was showcased at the ISH 2023 trade show, held in Frankfurt, Germany, March 13 to 17.
Last year, Viessmann launched two monobloc R290 air-to-water heat pumps for residential use – the Vitocal 150-A and 151-A heat pumps with heating capacities of 10, 13 and 16kW (2.8, 3.7 and 4.5 TR).
“We’re expanding the output ranges and product portfolio of hydronic heat pumps based on R290,” Kolb noted. “We’re going to ever-larger outputs for ever-larger buildings and also, of course, making use of new opportunities we have for safety standards.”
Transition to R290
Last year, Viessmann announced plans to open a new production site in Legnica, Poland, for its largest business area, Climate Solutions, with a particular focus on high-efficiency, propane (R290)-based heat pumps.
Kolb stressed Viessmann’s intention to transition entirely to R290 as the refrigerant in its heat pumps over the next couple of years. “All new developments are entirely natural refrigerant-based,” he said. “Step-by-step we are phasing out models we still have with f-gases and replacing them with new [R290] models.”
The focus on R290 is a “logical consequence” of the environmental effects of f-gases, “be it on the GWP side or the pollution of water resources,” he said. In addition the thermodynamic properties of propane make it “ideal for heat pumps in buildings, where you often need higher feed temperatures.”
He also cited the impending changes to the F-gas Regulation and the new PFAS evaluation being undertaken by the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) as contributing to the uptake of natural refrigerants. This will join with the heightened demand for heat pumps triggered by the RePowerEU program and Germany’s own targets. “We are on track to need millions of heat pumps and these heat pumps have to be sustainable,” he said. “I’m confident we will make the transition from gas and oil to heat pumps in a sustainable way.”
Germany is targeting 500,000 new heat pump installations in 2024, followed by 300,000 to 350,000 units annually, he said, adding, “We and other manufacturers are trying hard to make this happen.”
“All new developments are entirely natural refrigerant-based.”Dr. Stephan Kolb, Regulatory Affairs Director for Viessmann Group