This heat pump can last 10 000 years

April 27, 2011 by Ida Gudjonsson
This heat pump can last 10 000 years
A miniature pump is a cubic millimeter.

( -- Researchers now are testing an entirely new heat pump. While those we use today last ten to twenty years, the new one will last almost forever.

The new consists of many miniature heat pumps as small as one cubic millimeter. To heat a house one needs several thousand of them. They are put together into larger units that can be tall and thin or short and wide.

"The most important advantages of the new heat pump is that you can regulate its size and form and that it is more durable than heat pumps are today. It is also more environmentally friendly," Doctor of Physics Jan Kåre Bording says, who is Chief Engineer at the University of Stavanger in Norway.

Together with his colleague, Professor of Materials Science Vidar Hansen, he is developing a new heat pump that is thermo-electric. They investigate its disadvantages and advantages compared with the heat pumps we use today.

The project is a collaboration project with the Department of Physics, University of Oslo. According to the researchers the heat pump will be fully developed and ready to be launched on the market in five to ten years.

This heat pump can last 10 000 years
Jan Kľre Bording shows the new heat pump. The invention is much more environmentally friendly than those in use today.

A heat pump that lasts

The new heat pump has a longer life than today’s heat pumps.

"The heat pumps we use today consist of several moveable parts. After some time different parts break down and will have to be changed," Bording says.

"The new heat pump consists of several miniature heat pumps and these have a very simple design. In opposite to today’s heat pumps, these miniature heat pumps consist of only one part. Because they consist of only one metal part it’s easier to avoid wear and tear. You can compare the heat pump to a golden ring. A golden ring won’t be broken. The miniature pumps will just continue to pump. We stick fans on them, and they must be replaced, but the heat pump itself will stay and be equally effective after 10 000 years," Bording continues.

The heat pumps used today deteriorate after one year. Then they need to be inspected and that costs 1500 NOK for an air-to-air heat pump. After ten to twenty years larger parts of the pump will fail, for instance the compressor.

Thousands of pumps in a house

The small heat pumps can be put together and form lager units. The researchers also envisage that it may be possible to place several thousand of the small heat pumps at different places in the house.

"We don’t want a large wood-burning stove in the middle of the house as in the old days. It's better with more, smaller heat sources," Hansen says.

Initially, however, researchers will create units that can be placed at one or two locations in the house. The new heat pumps offer great flexibility as to where in the house you want them. It would be an advantage to have them in places where it is extra cold.

" For example, it may be a good idea to put them under the floor, so that the floor will heat the room. When the heat pump has a large surface, it produces more heat," Bording says.

General manager of the Norwegian Heat Pump Association, Bård Baardsen, wishes the new heat pump welcome.

"Heat pumps have not changed much over the years. The first was made 150 years ago. If something revolutionary happens to them, it's great news," he says.

Illegal gases

The new heat pumps will be more environmentally friendly than those in use today. One problem with them is, in fact, that they can leak cooling gas. Cooling gas is usually Freon gas, which destroys the ozone layer. One does not have that problem with cooling gas in thermoelectric heat pumps, since gas has been replaced with clean electricity.

"We have seen that several of the gases used in heat pumps, have become illegal, such as Freon 12. Gradually gases that are in use today can also become illegal, so that we can no longer use the heat pumps we have today," Bording says.

Generating electricity on the moon

Thermoelectric materials can also be used to generate electricity. Today, this is done on the moon. Electricity is used in everything from space stations to cars there.

" Thermal Electricity has long been used to generate electricity," Bording says.

Physicists have known for a long time that one may use thermal electricity to pump heat.

"The phenomenon of thermo-electricity has been known for more than a hundred years. Still, it is only now we are trying out how we can use this phenomenon to pump heat in the house," Bording says.

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5 / 5 (9) Apr 27, 2011
Fluff. No explanation of the physics. Thermoelectric units have no moving parts, but they are extremely inefficient. So what makes this unit better other than "only one metal"?
5 / 5 (2) Apr 27, 2011
Totally agree QuietMan, being that I will not be alive in 10,000 years to reap the benefits of not replacing my heat pump, the return on investment better have a shorter time span.
not rated yet Apr 27, 2011
Well if I have to say based on other research, thermoelectric effect efficiency can be brought up by a good margin when the units are almost at the nano level.
not rated yet Apr 27, 2011
Thermoelectric heat-pumps still have the issues of heat source / sink area. Being able to distribute the pump as an array of micro-pumps does mean that they can be switched on/off in stages rather than run all/none. Another issue is that mechanical heat-pumps don't like being cycled. Many Fridges, dehumidifiers etc come with warnings about allowing 10~~15 mins before restarting. They certainly don't like brown-outs. 'Thermos' don't have these problems...
not rated yet Apr 27, 2011
Ya that was a real in-depth explanation. Jez there are tons of chemical reactions that last millions of years that create (heat).
Apr 27, 2011
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
1 / 5 (1) Apr 27, 2011
It's certainly nice that they will last 10 thousand years, but what happens if they become obselete in 10 years.

The miniature pumps will just continue to pump. We stick fans on them, and they must be replaced, but the heat pump itself will stay and be equally effective after 10 000 years," Bording continues.

and I think an important part is how often do these little fans need to be replaced...replacing a thousand tiny fans seems like an expensive service call.

The way it's presented, I say, it probably works, but it sounds like the total economic picture hasn't been presented, and probably never will.

A major consideration in heaters/ac is the energy efficiency, which is totally omitted from this article, and the new magnetic cooling systems and hybrid membrane heat pump/swamp cooler systems are much farther along than this concept.
1 / 5 (1) Apr 27, 2011
This what we need, people building things to last as long as possible. We should do this for everything. Instead we build things to not last because we don't pay the true environmental cost for such things like disposable razors, tooth brushes and a zillion other plastic things that never get recycled.
not rated yet Apr 27, 2011
Thermoelectric materials can also be used to generate electricity. Today, this is done on the moon. Electricity is used in everything from space stations to cars there.

Yea, right. This might be true if we actually had space stations or cars on the moon! OR People, for that matter. I think the author may have been reading a little to much science fiction.
5 / 5 (1) Apr 27, 2011
Today, this is done on the moon. Electricity is used in everything from space stations to cars there.

There are cars and space stations on the MOON? Was I living under a rock?!
5 / 5 (1) Apr 27, 2011
A heat pump? What is its coefficient of performance (COP)?
Does it compare anywhere near a standard one. How much will it cost? If the answers to those question are reasonable, I for one would be happy to install it in my home.
1 / 5 (1) Apr 27, 2011
"Thermoelectric materials can also be used to generate electricity. Today, this is done on the moon. Electricity is used in everything from space stations to cars there."

Wait... what?
5 / 5 (1) Apr 27, 2011
Those moon people beat us again. We are at least 50 years behind them apparently.
not rated yet Apr 28, 2011
Everything is possible at
3 / 5 (2) Apr 28, 2011
Just because you can't see the Moon elves doesn't mean they're not there!!
not rated yet Apr 28, 2011
Smells like crap.
1 / 5 (1) May 01, 2011
Another fake article about a breakthrough that we will never hear anything about again.

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