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.