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New Ecodan Hydrodan aims to make use of heat recovery in ambient heat networks

Mitsubishi Electric believes its new water to water heat pump can play a key role in the reduction of energy in district heating. The manufacturer has designed the Ecodan Hydrodan specificially for use with so-called fifth generation heat networks, that make use of temperatures below 30 deg C.

The company believes the new unit, which uses the efficient and low-GWP (Global Warming Potential) refrigerant R32, can make a significant contribution to decarbonisation, given the government’s Heat and Buildings Strategy envisages a major expansion of heat networks on the journey to net zero – the independent Climate Change Committee suggested that such networks could comprise as much as 42 per cent of the future heating infrastructure.

Phil Ord, head of marketing and sales strategy said: “Currently only 2 per cent of the UK’s heat is provided by heat networks, so the potential is huge… [And] arguably the pace of change of technology has never been greater.”

The use of the heat pumps in one-, two-, or three-room apartments on an ambient loop will enable the operator to make use of heat recovery and to balance the heat loads across the network, thereby cutting the use of primary energy significantly.

The Hydrodan is designed to exploit the benefits of so-called fifth generation heat networks, which operate at temperatures of 10-30 deg C. The units, installed in apartments on a fixed water loop, can either be used as a heat source or heat sink, depending on the heating or cooling requirement. If cooling plant is used on the loop, the heat pumps can make use of the rejected heat.

Each plug and play unit offers a capacity range of between 1.1 kW and 7.5 kW and flow temperatures up to 60 deg C. Each features a 170 litre integrated tank, with a footprint designed to fit within a standard utility cupboard. Mitsubishi Electric points out that the charge of R32 in each heat pump is comfortably within the charge limits allowed for the refrigerant in an enclosed cupboard. The units are compatible with any type of heat emitter and all connections to the network are provided at the top of the unit for ease of access. The removeable heat pump unit itself comprises the compressor; refrigerant-to-water heat exchanger; loop-to-refrigerant plate heat exchanger; and water pump.

It achieves this via a PICV (Pressure-Independent Control Valve) which allows the flow to be changed independently of the system pressure.

Mitsubishi has now pledged to make its own operations net zero by 250

Product Manager Alex Bagnall said: “There are already renewable heating solutions for single homes, but this is one of the first truly low-carbon options available for multi-residential apartments.”

The manufacturer is particularly proud of its development of a very low noise output of 27 dB(a), addressing a common complaint with conventional HIUs.

The manufacturer can also supply what it calls a Flypass Kit, comprising a bypass/strainer/PICV plus Actuator combination valve, which allows the heat network to be installed and commissioned before the heat pumps are installed in the apartments.

Senior product manager James Chaplen added that with fourth generation heat networks prone to distribution  losses – between 32 per cent and 66 per cent, according to a recent BRE survey –  and not able to utilise heat recovery from any cooling plant, the challenge was to convince designers and specifiers of the potential benefits of ambient networks.

Mitsubishi Electric said the Hydrodan is available to be specified now, with delivery of the units from April.

Phil Ord said: “There are a lot of different types of people with a stake in heat networks – from architects to M&E specialists to energy distributors – and the relationships can be quite complex. So education is vital about the potential of the new technology.”

Mr Bagnall added: “In two to three years’ time, people will be asking ‘why did we specify the fourth generation option?’”

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