A team of researchers at Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) have designed advanced heat-pump compressors, using AI technology. The breakthrough discovery is capable of curbing power requirement by up to 25%.
According to report, 50-60% of Switzerland homes are powered by heat pumps. Although majority of heat pumps today are environment friendly, the systems still provide room for improvement. One of the most crucial developments of the EPFL team is that they have replaced microturbocompressors from the conventional compression system. This can especially reduce power of heat pumps by 20-25%. Owning to reports by experts, turbocompressors are ten times more efficient and smaller in size than the regular piston devices.
However, the process of adding turbocompressors is complicated and the experts succeeded in developing an easier and faster way to add these to the heat pumps. The machine-learning process which the scientists developed in order to attach these to the heat pumps is known as symbolic regression. In order to establish this, the scientists required to calculate optimal dimensions of the turbocompressor. By gauging the ideal size and rotation speed for the desired heat pump was a significant step in the design.
Earlier inventions have referred to design charts to calculate the size of turbocompressors, the charts however grew inaccurate, with small sizes of the device, or they were outdated. Two PhD students from EPFL thus worked on inventing an alternative for the design. 500,000 simulations results were fed into machine-learning algorithms and generated equations replicated the charts even with small sizes of turbocompressors. Additionally they are 1500 times faster in comparison.
By means of the latest discovery, engineers can also skip some of the previous steps of the conventional design process. The research study has thus led to an easier method of implementation and to a more large scale use of microturbochargers in heat pumps.
Moreover, microturbocompressors have a diameter of a dozen millimeters, and are capable of running without oil. Furthermore, they can rotate on gas bearings with the speed of hundreds of thousands of rpm. Owing to the rotation movements and the gas layers between the components, it causes no friction. Hence, the miniature systems are able to accelerate the efficiency of pump heat transfer by 20-30%.
The invention has been a product of several years of research study, and the team is already been contacted by several companies for the implementation of the method, since the companies have now found an easy way to incorporate microturbocharger technology into their heat pumps.