While no single advancement in technology will completely solve this problem, the mission of Lutfey Innovations is to create an affordable, energy efficient, and practical system for a home’s heating and cooling needs.
Examining the general needs of a house reveals the following:
- some things always need to be cold (refrigerators and freezers)
- some things always need to be hot (water for taking a shower),
- some things can vary (interior living space)
Can this all be incorporated into a single system?
A heat pump takes heat energy from one area to another. A window mounted air conditioner takes heat energy from interior air and moves it outside. A refrigerator extracts heat from inside the unit and puts it into the nearby living space.
While heat pumps are most commonly associated with cooling air, they work just as well transferring energy between liquids. Running a heat pump between two tanks of water will result in hot and cold water. Both of these tanks can be used for the desired benefit.
It should be noted that this is nothing new. Systems have been built that use a traditional air conditioning to heat the water in an outdoor swimming pool. Also heat pump water heaters naturally cool the surrounding air which can be generally beneficial in hot climates. While these setups do exist, they are not widely used and the benefits are more of a convenient afterthought rather than a design feature.
The core of our system uses a heat pump to create hot and cold fluid that is stored in highly insulated tanks. The actual fluid used is Glycol to prevent freezing and other undesirable chemical reactions. The cold fluid is pumped into a refrigerator/freezer to keep food cold and frozen as needed. The hot fluid is passed through a simple heat exchanger for domestic hot water. Hot or cold fluid is used to regulate the temperature inside the house.
But what happens when the demand for heat is greater than cold (or vice versa)?
To solve this problem a third tank is added to the system which is placed directly on the concrete basement floor. Fluid from the hot or cold tanks can cycle through this tank to add or remove energy from the system as needed. This is the same process that is used in existing geothermal heating and cooling systems.
This configuration employs existing technologies to meet residential heating and cooling needs using the most energy efficient methods possible.
Slight Tangent: Can we design a more efficient heat pump?
While heat pumps have been around for 150 years now, their basic design has seen only incremental improvements over the years. The practical efficiency of current heat pumps is still significantly below their theoretical potential.
As with many great ideas, this one started when I was doodling on the butcher paper table covering at Macaroni Grill.
I theorized a heat pump could be constructed from a series of heat tubes arranged in a circular pattern. Spinning these tubes at a specific speed would cause the outer edge of the disk to become hot and the center to cool down. Strategically placed insulation and fan blades cause hot air to be moved in one direction and cold air in the other way. Viola– a heat pump with a single moving part!
The images below are from the pending US Patent.