Combining solar energy and a heat pump system ?

The purpose of this website is to explain the PhD project that I’m currently pursuing under the funding of the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship from Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

The subject of this research concerns a hybrid system integrating a photovoltaic/thermal solar collector providing both, electricity and heat to a transcritical CO2 heat pump.

Heat pumps are used in a variety of functions, including food refrigeration and in residential air conditioning units to name only a few common applications. These systems could also provide heat as a replacement for electrical baseboard during the cold season. The principal advantage related  to this usage is the performance of heat pump that could be 3 to 5 times more efficient than electrical baseboard. Unfortunately, the heat pump heating performance is strongly related to outdoor air temperature and the heating efficiency decreases along with the decrease of the ambient outdoor air temperature. In other words, as temperatures become colder with winter, performance of a heat pump becomes inferior (and disadvantageous) to that of an electrical baseboard. Note that the latter runs at a 100% conversion efficiency.

This project aims to develop a prototype able to improve the heating performances of heat pumps used in cold climate using the heat provided by the sun. In this way, a hybrid photovoltaic/thermal solar collector will be integrated with a transcritical CO2 heat pump to increase the number of hours where the system will provide heat with good performances. The final system will also be able to provide an alternative source of electricity.