Environmental impacts from heat pumps

There some huge benefits to using heat pumps. The advantages are that during the winter heat pumps can act like space heaters. During the summer they act like air conditioning units. The other upside is that heat pumps have a lot lower emission levels of CO2 and is a non-combustible away to generate heat for an area.

There is one huge disadvantage to using heat pumps. That is for refrigerator heat pumps use a coolant that is a CFC which is non-toxic and non-flammable, but is linked to the destruction of the ozone layer in our atmosphere. Steps are being taken by most companies to introduce ozone safe coolants for domestic uses.

The following link has more info on these impacts and benefits:


What is a Heat Sink and how does it relate to a Heat Pump


This link will take you to the following ACS journal “An Aluminum Heat Sink and Radiator for Electrophoresis Capillaries”.

A heat sink is a piece of mechinery or an electronic device that is design to keep something that is normally very hot at a low temperature as to not damage itself. The heat sink design in this experiment is for to pieces of aluminum block with the fins being 1 in. x 3 in. x 1/8 in. and placed 1/8 of an inch apart. These form a channel for the hot air to travel and have them cooled by a forced air cooling system.

The normal idea for a heat sink is to have a coolant fluid that is in motion out of the device. The transfer of this heat can actually be regulated very easily without much cost going to the construction of the heat sink.

How heat sinks relate to heat pumps?

Heat pumps are a device that moves heat oppisite direction to sponatneous heat flow. This is accomplished by taking heat from an already cold space and releasing the heat in a much warmer one. Heat pumps do use some outside energy to do the work.

This interaction is that the heat pump generates heat and transfer it to a heat sink where the heat can then be moved to heat a system like a green house or your home.


Heat pump diagram

Source: Heat Transfer and Air-Source Heat Pumps – HowStuffWorks.

This website has a very beautifully illustration of how a heat pump works as an heating unit to help you gain a better understanding of heat pumps being used in our daily lives. This type of heat pump would be an air-air heat pump. This name is used because it takes the much cooler air from outside and transfers the air through a system of heating ducts in your home.


Coefficient of Performance

Equation for an ideal heat pump. An ideal pump can achieve efficiencies of 18 or more. Realistically, commertial heat pumps for home use can obtain an coefficient of performance (efficiency) of 3 to 4. Thermodynamics 3rd edition- Engle, Reid p.109
Refrigerators are heat pumps run in reverse. While it still utilizes work to move heat from a cold source into a hot source, the goal is oposite in that heat is removed from the cold source to make it colder instead of to heat the hot source.