Project Overview

Maine used 99 times more oil for heating and transportation than for electricity generation in 2013.  Figure A visualizes this fact with black dots proportional in size to the oil used in each energy sector.  In order to reduce Maine’s reliance on oil, alternative heating systems must be provided to Maine homes, businesses, and industry. Heat pumps are an excellent option for Mainers wishing to save on heating fuel costs in an elegant way. The heat pump units are extremely efficient, reduce carbon emissions, and provide comfortable heat with a short payback period.

                   Figure A - Visual Comparison of Oil Used in Maine to For Electricity Generation, Heating, and Transportation

Our project goal is to further improve the efficiency of the current system by adding a manual-control system to the subcooling process. This design will allow the heat pump to switch between diverting “free” energy to heat water and providing additional air heating when the water is already heated to the desired temperature.  The current system is only capable of diverting the "free-energy" to a water tank.  After testing the hybrid "three-fluid" heat exchanger system our team aims to measure the improved efficiency, report the improvements, and educate the public about heat pump technology. 

A photograph of the hybrid heat exchanger is shown in Figure B.

Figure B - The three-fluid subcooling heat exchanger; designed to subcool by heating water or heating air.