Opportunities for CO2 heat pumps in the lumber sector?

Opportunities for CO2 heat pumps in the lumber sector

Speaking on the first day of the Chillventa Congress, Van Baxter – an engineer from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the US state of Tennessee – said that the growth of the United States heat pump market was largely due to the lumber industry.

“There are 3,000 installations [in the North American market] in total, and lumber makes up the majority of these,” said Baxter during his Chillventa presentation in the German city of Nuremburg. There are 750 such installations in the Canadian lumber industry alone, a figure he expects to grow further.

Food processing is an area where the natural refrigerant CO2 is already making inroads into the US market. “A number of CO2 transcritical heat pumps are installed in the food processing industry [in the US],” he said. He cited a successful installation of a heat pump in a milk processing plant to pasteurise the milk as an example of where the “uniqueness” of CO2 is effective at high temperatures.

High temperatures are needed in the lumber industry to dry out wood destined for commercial applications. In a sector currently dominated by R22, Baxter believes this brings opportunities for CO2 heat pumps too.

“I agree technically if you can take advantage of the way the gas cooler operates and maximise the temperature, you have some efficiency possibilities there,” he said.