Heat pumps

Above: Kensa's district ground source heating system is suitable in apartments

Right: Air quality in the UK’s cities is a major issue particularly in London where the NOx pollution contribution directly from domestic and commercial gas boilers is estimated to be 16%

Left: GSHP can help to improve London's air quality Picture by Rob Bye on Unsplash

deaths, over six million sick days and an estimated total social cost of over £20 billion per year. In 2017, the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) revealed that 44 of the 51 UK cities in the WHO’s ambient air pollution database exceed WHO’s recommended limit for air particulate matter.

Air quality

Air pollution comes in three main forms: particulates; nitrogen oxides (NOx); and sulphur oxides (SOx). Much of this air pollution is caused by vehicle transport but there is also a contribution from combustion heating systems that burn gas, oil, LPG or biomass to produce heat. In particular, air quality in the UK’s cities is a major

issue. In London, the NOx pollution contribution directly from domestic and commercial gas boilers is estimated to be 16%, but that percentage is set to

 October 2018

A breath of fresh air A

ccording to current estimates by the UK Health Alliance, outdoor air pollution contributes to around 40,000 premature

grow as transport becomes cleaner. Addressing our approach to heating and cooling existing and new buildings is therefore vital to deliver the air pollution and carbon reductions needed to improve the health and well-being of us all, and our planet.

GSHPs and air quality

A ground source heat pump extracts naturally occurring heat from the ground (or water) and uses it for space heating and hot water production in buildings (domestic and commercial). The heat pump itself is an electrically driven device with no combustion. There are therefore no point of use emissions of any pollution – particulates, NOx or SOx (and no point of use CO2 emissions either). A particular benefit is the use of ground source heat pump systems in cities. As an example, if a typical three- bedroom property that consumes 12,000 kWh per year of heat was heated by a modern condensing gas combi boiler it could produce approximately 480kg of NOx emissions. For

With heat pumps there are no point of use emissions of any pollution – particulates, NOx or SOx (and no point of use CO2 emissions either)

Kensa Heat Pumps explores how innovative heating systems can combat climate change and local air pollution

older, non-condensing boilers this could be over two tonnes NOx per annum. Whilst ensuring that all gas boilers in London are modern condensing boilers would produce significant air pollution savings, it is worth pointing out that ground source heat pumps produce no point of use emissions. There are estimated to be 900,000 domestic gas boilers in London. If these were all replaced with ground source heat pumps, we could reduce the NOx emissions in our city significantly. Dr Matthew Trewhella, contracts director, Kensa

Contracting, says: “Ground source heat pumps could reduce the NOx emissions in London alone by over 400,000 tonnes per annum compared to even the best gas condensing boilers.” It is important to note that there are some NOx emissions associated with electricity generation and therefore that used to power the heat pump, however power stations are typically located outside of cities where air pollution is greatly reduced and they are much simpler to monitor, measure and control local pollution effects.

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