Heat pumps for university building

Paul Boughton

Sheffield Hallam University’s new Furnival building will have its energy provided by ground source heat pumps, which have been supplied and installed by Danfoss Heat Pumps UK, formerly ECO Heat Pumps in Sheffield.

These ultra energy efficient heat pumps ensure that the building benefits from reduced energy bills and a significant reduction in carbon emissions, compared with other more traditional forms of heating.

Phil Moore, Managing Director of Danfoss Heat Pumps UK, explains: “Sheffield Hallam University were concerned about the carbon footprint of this new building and were also looking to make the new building affordable to run over the long term. Heat pumps were the perfect choice as they provide a completely renewable source of heat energy at much lower running costs. This project shows just how important heat pumps are in providing sustainable heating for large commercial or educational buildings.”

The Furnival building is located at the heart of the rapidly developing City Centre Campus in Sheffield and will comprise the Faculties of Arts, Computing, Engineering and Sciences, as well as other campus facilities. It has a total floor space of 9500m”, will house 240 staff and provide teaching space for more than 1600 students. The project involved the sinking of five vertical bore holes to a depth of 90 metres to provide under-floor heating for the building. Danfoss Heat Pumps UK installed 45kW from the Robust range of heat pumps to provide the building with affordable ‘green’ energy, drawing on the earth’s consistent temperature.

Danfoss Heat Pumps UK worked with Shepherd Engineering Services Ltd to provide a heating system which works by circulating a refrigerant fluid around a circuit containing four elements; evaporator, compressor, condenser and expansion valve. As heat is absorbed from the ground, the liquid refrigerant evaporates to form a gas. Later in the cycle, this gas is compressed which causes it to change back to a liquid whilst at the same time releasing the heat into the building and the cycle begins again. Heat pumps are effective both in summer and winter, day and night because the ground temperature remains constant at only a few feet below the surface.

With running costs typically 75 per cent that of conventional systems, heats pump normally pays for itself in between five and ten years. Grants are available for charities or public bodies through the low carbon buildings.

The heat pumps will also be accompanied by a number of other renewable energy sources including photovoltaic cells, which will convert the sun’s light into electricity. As photovoltaic cells release no carbon, sulphur or nitrogen dioxide gases, they do not contribute to global warming.

All these factors will ensure that the Furnival Building will be one of the ‘greenest’ buildings in the city.

Phil Moore continues: “There is strong demand for heat pumps particularly for commercial and public buildings as they are four times more efficient than conventional gas boilers. Almost everyone in the country is aware of the threat posed by global warming and it is credit to Hallam University that they have ensured that their new development is as sustainable as possible. Once finished, the Furnival building will be an example to the whole city on how to make best use of green technologies.”