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posted on 03.08.2020, 14:35 by Zhiyao Yang

Space and water heating contribute over 50% of all the residential building energy consumption and are especially major energy consumers in the cold climates. Meanwhile, conventional furnaces and boilers with energy efficiency limited to below 100% dominate the residential heating in the cold climate, and the electric vapor-compression heat pump capacity and efficiency decline drastically at low ambient temperatures. Thermally driven ammonia-based chemical adsorption (chemisorption) heat pump (CSHP) systems utilize the reversible chemical reaction between the ammonia vapor and solid sorbent to generate heat pumping effect, which can provide heating with much higher energy efficiency than existing cold-climate heating technologies. Despite the significant potential of energy efficiency improvement from existing technologies, most studies in the literature on chemisorption heat pump systems focus on adopting the technology for refrigeration and energy storage applications, with very limited investigations available for using the technology for producing heating in cold climates.

This thesis study is thus conducted to characterize the operation behavior and performance of a CSHP system under cold ambient conditions and further identify optimal design and control for such systems to achieve high performance. In this study, both experimental and modelling approaches are pursued to investigate a CSHP heating system from the perspective of the sorption material using the multiple-stage LiCl-ammonia reactions, to the novel adsorber component with hybrid heat pipe heat exchanger, and finally to the performance of the complete heat pump system. The experimental studies are based on a prototype CSHP system tested to identify the chemical kinetics of the sorption material, as well as the transient performance of the adsorber and the system. The calibrated chemical kinetics are then used in the development of a transient adsorber model to analyze the operation and improve design of the adsorber. The heating COP of the prototype system was measured to be 0.75-1.16 under ambient temperatures of 8-20 C. Finally, a dynamic system model is developed based on the dynamic models of the adsorber and other components in the system. The system model is validated against the experimental data and used to analyze the detailed energy flow and operation dynamic. Based on the inefficiencies revealed by the simulation of the current prototype system, an improved system design with reduced thermal mass and heat loss is introduced. Simulation of the improved system results in heating COP of 1.17 to 1.23 under -13.9 C to 8.3 C ambient, respectively.


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy


Civil Engineering

Campus location

West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Ming Qu

Additional Committee Member 2

Eckhard Groll

Additional Committee Member 3

Travis Horton

Additional Committee Member 4

Kyle Gluesenkamp