Heat pump development from lab to industry

Part of Today in the Lab – Tomorrow in Energy?

Today in the Lab – Tomorrow in Energy? shines a spotlight on research projects under development in the Technology Collaboration Programmes (TCPs). Learn more about the initiative, read the launch commentary, or explore the TCPs.

An innovative high-temperature heat pump delivering process heat without creating carbon emissions

What is the aim of this project?

The project aims to develop an innovative high-temperature heat pump (HTHP) delivering process heat (heat for industrial processes) at 110-120°C without creating carbon emissions. The heat pump cycle will operate with natural refrigerants that contribute little to global warming and do not deplete the ozone layer.

How could this technology be explained to a high-school student?

Two concepts for the heat pump system have been investigated (see illustration):

  • The heat pump supplies process heat up to 115°C while simultaneously providing cooling, e.g. in the form of ice water at 0°C to 4°C (Concept A).
  • The heat pump takes in low-temperature waste heat, upgrades it and supplies process heat up to 115°C (Concept B).

Both concepts have been tested in the prototype installation (see picture) and found to be considerably more efficient than current fossil fuel-based boilers.

What is the value of this project for society?

  • reduces energy consumption for process heating by 65% and carbon emissions by 97%
  • phases in safe natural refrigerants with no net climate impact
  • provides practical experience for industrial operation with respect to functionality, stability and safety.

At what stage of development is this project?

The project began in 2016 and developed a small-scale heat pump (20 kW) to be tested at HighEFFLab in Norway, the National Laboratories for an Energy Efficient Industry. The successful testing led to a upscaling project, SkaleUp, launched in 2019 to demonstrate the project’s potential in an industrial pilot installation with a thermal capacity of 300 kW. The HTHP will provide heating and cooling in a local dairy plant in Trondheim, Norway, by 2021. The next steps will focus on co-operation with relevant component and heat pump manufacturers in order to develop a market-ready solution at industrial scale.

What government policies could bring this from the lab to the market?

  • competitive and fair pricing of renewable energy sources
  • strict regulations on low-emissions industrial production
  • energy efficiency requirements for industry
  • continued and accelerated funding for research at laboratory scale and for early industrial adapters
  • phase-out of harmful refrigerants to make way for natural refrigerants.
6  Iets 3 Heatup Graphic

Two application concepts for high-temperature heat pumps (Illustration: SINTEF)

Demonstration heat pump (20 kW) in HighEFF- laboratory (Photo: SINTEF)

Partners and funders


  • SINTEF Energy Research
  • Norwegian University of Science and Technology


  • Research Council of Norway through FME-HighEFF Centre for Environment-Friendly Energy Research 257632/E20
  • Co-financing from industry; for more information, see www.higheff.no

Learn more

About the Technology Collaboration Programme on Industrial Energy-Related Technologies and Systems (IETS TCP)

The IETS TCP focuses on energy use in a broad range of industry sectors with significant potential for emissions and cost savings. The IETS TCP work programme ranges from development of processes and energy technologies to overall system analysis and energy efficiency in industry sectors.

Contact: helene.johansson@cit.chalmers.se