Posts by jamesschenck

Establishing un-contested markets, the multi-source heat pump.

Posted by on Jun 4, 2013 in Blog | 1 comment

When new ideas are being vetted they are inevitably viewed through an existing context.  How do these ideas conform to the existing frame of reference?

These need to be addressed but not necessarily directly or as the context wants them to to be addressed.

The proposition that we are making does not follow the parameters that most of the industry follows.  We do not believe that the ground source industry is an appropriate context to view multi source applications.  We also do not believe that the solar thermal industry is an appropriate context.

The application perspective of a multi source heat pump with a thermal battery must start over.  The differences must be taken into account for what they are and new context frame of references need to be formed.  When new propositions are made it is very difficult to objectively view them because of previous reference points.

For example, the solar thermal industry “knows” that storing energy in below ground tanks has significant conductive losses regardless of how well insulated it is.  The geo industry “knows” that a thermal battery does not have enough thermal proximity to enough earth to support a heat pump.  Both are true and both are false.  It all depends on the intended application.  If you think you are going to use the buried tank to store high temp solar, you will find that it does not work well for that.  If you think the buried tank will absorb heat like earth loops, you will find it has limited capability for that.

If you can see that both of those poor performing situations are the result of previously formed perspectives and that they are not inherent limitations on the current proposition, you are ahead of the curve.  You don’t want to let established frames of reference complicate and confuse the situation.  Start fresh and see each thing for what it is.

Are we trying to re-invent the wheel with the multi-source heat pump thermal battery system?  Perhaps but I think of it as a going back to basics.  We are not trying to make things more complicated, we are trying to be as “true” to thermodynamics as we can.  We are starting at the beginning and telling physics to drive.  We are not putting arbitrary barriers in the path or establishing a bias with some proprietary element.

It will take some time for the multi-source heat pump market to establish itself but I think that when it does it will accelerate quickly.  I am hopeful that we will be able to offer a software simulation program in the near future that can help people learn how various multi-source heat pump configurations will perform in various regions.  We have already had the modeling created but we need to modify it a bit and we then need to have a user friendly “executable” program built.

Where will the industry be in five years?  Thermal Battery Systems Inc. is betting on it being bigger than it is today.




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Energy Infrastructure

Posted by on May 10, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

It is conceded that the first place to focus on when building an energy efficient home is the building itself.  You want a well insulated, tightly built structure with low infiltration.  You will also want to consider passive solar designs that take into account site orientation, window size and placement and the eve’s of the roof.

After those items are decided upon the next thing people generally look at is the energy efficiency of the mechanical system that will condition the space.  The industry offers these mechanical devices and the customer makes their choice.

Lets take a closer look at that.  Energy efficiency the relationship between energy input and energy output.  Things that burn fuel will convert a certain percentage of the fuel into heat energy that is delivered.  Some of the energy from the fuel goes out the flue and is lost.  A fuel burning device that delivers 95% of the energy it uses is considered “very” efficient.

Now consider heat pumps.  Heat pumps scavenge and concentrate thermal energy.  They use electricity to do this.  Air source heat pumps use the ambient outdoor air as their energy interface.  Ground source heat pumps use the earth as their energy interface.  Both have exactly the same internal process, it is the energy elements that they interact with that makes them different from each other.

When a heat pump is using electricity to scavenge and concentrate thermal energy it is also measured by the standard method of energy input vs. energy output.  Ground source heat pumps can achieve efficiencies of 400% and higher because the earths temperature is relatively moderate.  It can take 1 KWH of electrical input and deliver 4 KWH of thermal energy into a load.  Air source heat pumps can also do this but the problem is that their “source” is always in opposite thermal condition as their load.  (Very cold outside= big heating load and low quality scavenging conditions.  Very hot outside = big cooling load and bad heat rejection conditions)

A thermal battery system is energy infrastructure.  It is used to moderate and improve the conditions that the heat pump will be dealing with.  By investing in energy infrastructure you turn the “ground source” heat pump into a multi-source-conditions-optimized-heat-pump.

It is my belief that the process should not go straight from the passive infrastructure elements of a home to the efficiency of the mechanical devices that can be used.  I say the focus should start with passive infrastructure, move on to active infrastructure and then move to the mechanical devices.

Energy infrastructure is not expensive and it is not complicated.  Give us a call today and get a quote on a thermal battery.  Your heat pump will thank you.


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Building and testing a Thermal Battery.

Posted by on Apr 26, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Here is a video I did earlier this week.

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Pioneering in industry, Multi-Source Heat Pump

Posted by on Apr 17, 2013 in Blog | 1 comment

The air source heat pump vs. ground source heat pump debate is interesting to observe.

Those of us who are directly involved in the GSHP industry are wholeheartedly adamant about the inherent advantages that GSHP has over ASHP.

The issue is that ASHP’s have lower installed cost and they are much easier to install.  Technological improvements are seen as making GSHP’s less relevant.

I am perplexed by the entire situation.

The non-industry view and perspective on these two “technologies” often sides with the ASHP system.  Much lamenting about the costs and unpredictability of GSHP’s is in the ammo of this position.

Why is it that we must act like these are different technologies?  Why must we call one heat pump “air source” and another “ground source”?  Are they different technologies?

No, they are not.  A heat pump is a heat pump is a heat pump.  The “source” designation is entirely arbitrary.

If a heat pump was hooked to a Thermal Battery System and an ambient air fluid cooler what should we call it?  It would be an “air source” system when it was using the fluid cooler to reject or absorb heat.  It is a “ground source” system as the battery interacts with the surrounding earth and moderates its temperature.  Both “sources” mix with such a system.

I predict that we will soon see manufactures trying to offer up there own versions of MSHP’s.  (Multi-Source Heat Pump.)

If we can identify regional conditions where an ASHP could be deemed most appropriate, and we can identify regions where a GSHP would be deemed most appropriate, why don’t we define the regions where a combined source heat pump would be the best compromise?

Energy is energy.  Heat is where you find it and it is not where you don’t.  Heat pumps move thermal energy.  A large thermal mass that can become a thermal flywheel is a useful component to include in a design.  Using physics to better serve energy loads before you look to technology is working smarter.

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Value and assumptions

Posted by on Apr 9, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

When the value of something like a solar collector is represented it contains a first cost and then an assumption. The assumption is an estimation that is based on the application.  For example, if I was to ask how many BTU the solar collector can be expected to collect over its expected service life of 30 years… I have asked a question that contains an assumption.  The assumption is that the solar collector will be applied to a life of service delivering “hot” water.  I should ask how many BTU will the solar collector capture at a temperature range of greater than X?  And how many will it capture if we lower delivery temp by 10 F?  And so on.  There is no such thing as an estimation of the annual capacity of a solar collector without knowing the conditions of the application.  The difference between abundance and none has everything to do with the size and temperature of your heat sink.

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