Vapor-to-heat pump with multistage vacuum regenerator

15 November 2021 → 14 March 2023
Regional and community funding: Industrial Research Fund
Research disciplines
  • Engineering and technology
    • Construction materials technology
    • Installation techniques
    • Energy storage
    • Thermodynamic processes
    • Heat and mass transfer
  • Agricultural and food sciences
    • Food and additive engineering
industrial drying hygroscopic salt solution falling film vacuum evaporator coefficient of performance Vapor-to-heat pump liquid desiccant high temperature heat pump energy efficiency regenerator concentrator
Project description

The vapor-to-heat pump is a new drying technology designed at UGent.  It consists of a mass heat exchanger and a regenerator. UGent has built up knowledge and expertise on both components over the past 8 years, including:

  • A functioning mass heat exchanger in a greenhouse in Sint-Katelijne-Waver (TRL 6)
  • The design of a pilot regenerator with a capacity of  30kW  and the availability of 80% of its components in the Technicum building. The regenerator is of the type " two-stage vacuum evaporator driven by a heat pump "  and it is cost competitive. This technique is groundbreaking compared to all other drying techniques on the market:
  • The COP is twice the value as of the state of the art
  • 10 to 20 times higher COP compared to current common practice for dehumidification (heating and venting)
  • The system can operate with 100% renewable energy
  • Due to the hygroscopic solution storage possibility, the vapor-to-heat pump has flexibility in energy use and energy storage capacity.
  • Flexibility in drying temperature in function of process needs, results in improved quality
  • It can contribute to the energy transformation with the highest COP and highest potential for energy storage.

Potential markets are very large. In general up to 25% of industrial energy use is for drying. The project has the following objectives:

  • Construction and testing of a prototype regenerator of 30kW drying performance and COP of >=8. 
  • To reach TRL of 6
  • Semi-practical full scale test of the vapor-to-heat pump : To connect the mass heat exchanger available in the greenhouse and the regenerator to a functioning vapor-to-heat pump
  • To protect IP
  • Full scale preparation of a license package for an interested company

This project brings the vapor-to-heat pump to the commercial level.