High-Performance, High-Reliability Gas Heat Pump Hideaki Kasahara*1 Atsushi Yoshimura*1 Ryuuji Morishima*2 Hisao Iwata* 2 In order to response to annually increasing customer needs for economic efficiency and environmental protection, we have improved, the commercial gas heat pump (GHP), known for its energy saving and comfort, to make energy efficiency higher and improve exhaust gas purification. At the same time, the competitiveness and the reliability of the GHP were improved by making the fix maintenance easier and reducing the noise and the vibration. This paper details GHP specifications and the technology enabling the above improvements.
1. Introduction Gas heat pumps (GHP), which drive the compressor by an engine fueled by city gas or LP gas, can provide a high level of heating performance during the winter season, because as a heat source such GHP can utilize engine exhaust heat that is unavailable in conventional electric heat pumps (EHP). Moreover, GHP consume so little electric power compared with EHP that they lower peak electricity levels during the summer season in particular when the usage of the air conditioning energy becomes greatest. Therefore, GHP are considered as a trump card for leveling both electric and gas energies.
2. Features of GHC-5 The GHC-5 outdoor unit series of gas heat pumps (P355, P450, and P560) for the multi-indoor unit system for use in buildings has been developed recently. In particular, the engine performance and the refrigeration cycle were improved, and incorporate reviewing of the vibration isolation and the sound proofing was implemented based upon the previous model of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) GHC-4 favorably put on the market in April 2000. At the same time, the environmental characteristics of these units were further improved e 1 shows by extending their maintenance intervals. Tabl able the major specifications of GHC-5, while Fig Fig.. 1 shows the major items of the improvement.
3. Performance improvement technology 3.1 Refrigerant circuit In order to recover engine exhaust heat efficiently, the MHI GHP employs a small size, high performance plate type refrigerant heater and a high performance refrigerating circuit unique to MHI in which the heater is arranged in parallel with the air heat exchanger. Its purpose is to obtain a stable heating capability, using both the air heat exchanger and the refrigerant heater during heating operation, while on the other hand, switching to the operation of the refrigerant heater only when the evaporation performance of the air heat exchanger becomes low at a very low outdoor temperatures. *1 Air-Conditioning & Refrigeration Systems Headquarters *2 Nagoya Research & Development Center, Technical Headquarters
Fig Fig.. 2 shows the refrigerant circuit of the GHC-5. In existing GHC-4 units, the circuit flowing toward the compressor from the refrigerant heater was merged with the tubing from the air heat exchanger at the place before the four-way valve. In the GHC-5, however, it was changed after review, so as to be merged at the accumulator section. This change reduces refrigerant circulation flow through the four-way valve at the heating operation so drastically that the pressure loss in the refrigerant low-pressure side was also reduced, thereby contributing greatly to improved performance. In addition, a fast defrosting operation of the outdoor unit air heat exchanger that utilizes engine exhaust heat was made possible by switching the four-way valve to the cooling operation side, with the solenoid valve in the refrigerant heater side is kept open. Since the heat exchanger of the indoor unit and indoor/outdoor connect piping can maintain a high temperature at this time, heating is so comfortable after defrosting operation that the same level of comfort as that achieved in cases without the defrosting operation could be realized from a practical standpoint. As a result, the air heat exchanger can now be used at temperatures of up to -2 oC (that is, utilization of the air heat source), although it previously was turned off at outdoor temperatures of around 2 oC in order to avoid defrosting. Moreover, improvements
H 2135 x W 1750 x D 950 mm
External dimensions Unit weight
In-line 4 cylinders water-cooled OHV 1 998 cc
Reciprocating V type 4 cylinders
Capacity Cooling Gas consumption mode Electric power consumption Capacity
Heating mode Gas consumption Electric power consumption Low temperature heating capacity Mean COP of cooling/heating Operating noise level Maintenance intervals
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. Technical Review Vol.39 No.2 (Jun. 2002)
Optimum tuning Reduction of exhaust noise
Reduction of suction noise Fuel gas regulator
Improved engine and electronic control
Adoption of inner vent type
Smaller displacement and higher compression ratio as well as electronic control of ignition timing and air/fuel ratio
Improvement of starting performance at the time of air cleaner deterioration
Improvement in consistency of COP and NOx reduction as well as reduction of oil consumption
Improvement in heating performance (lower pressure loss)
Reduction of noise radiated from the plate
Adoption of hydraulic mount Reduction of vibration transferring to the plates
Engine thermal efficiency
Refrigerant Air heat heater exchanger Expansion valve Solenoid valve
During heating mode, refrigerant flow through the four-way valve lessens so that pressure loss decreases.
in COP (Coefficient of Performance) have also become possible. 3. 2 Enhancement of engine efficiency and reduction 3.2 of NOx 3.2.1 Influence of air excess ratio and ignition timing The thermal efficiency of the engine and NOx emission levels are highly dependent on the air excess ratio (a ratio of the intake air to the supply fuel gas) and the ignition timing (timing at discharge of the ignition plug). Fig Fig.. 3 shows the impact of the air excess ratio and ignition timing on engine thermal efficiency, while Fig Fig.. 4 shows the impact of the air excess ratio and ignition timing on NOx emission levels. These figures reveal that while thermal efficiency is improved by making the fuel gas richer (i.e., the air excess ratio smaller) and by advancing the ignition timing, such actions result in an increase in NOx emissions.
Lower (rich) Higher Air excess ratio (lean)
Ignition timing Retard
Exhaust gas heat exchanger
Level of NOx emissions
Cooling water pump
Improvement of sound insulation performance
Engine vibration isolation system
Direct connection of the outlet piping of the refrigerant heater to the accumulator
Refrigerant circuit (suction line)
Higher Air excess ratio (lean)
Advanced Ignition timing Retard
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. Technical Review Vol.39 No.2 (Jun. 2002)
EGR valve VSV Ignition coil Intake valve
To exhaust muffler
Without EGR With EGR
Mixer Fuel valve Mf drive motor Mt Throttle drive motor
Level of NOx emissions (ppm)
From air cleaner (air)
Higher (lean) 0.05 Air excess ratio
Exhaust gas heat exchanger Coolant outlet
3.2.2 NOx reducing by EGR system Whereas NOx emission levels have been reduced by making the fuel content lean in past GHP units, consideration needs to be given to alternate methods in order to realize further reduction. A wide variety of methods are available that can be used to reduce NOx emission levels, including the use of catalysts and EGR (Exhaust Gas Re-circulation), amongst others. MHI utilized the EGR system since the GHC-4 because of its benefits in terms of reliability. In the new system, a review of the specifications of the engine has led to an EGR also being simultaneously optimized, as well. Fig Fig.. 5 shows an overview of the system. The EGR is a system designed to recycle part of the exhaust gas into the intake manifold, that inert gas causes to increase the specific heat of intake air and fuel gas mixture in order to restrict any excessive rise in the combustion temperature so as to reduce NOx generation. Fig Fig.. 6 shows the effects of an EGR on reducing NOx emissions. By optimizing the EGR, it became possible to reduce NOx emission levels to one-half or one-third without any deterioration in thermal efficiency. 3.2. 3 Reduction of gas consumption and NOx levels 3.2.3 by electronic control In order to achieve high levels of efficiency and low levels of NOx emissions throughout all engine operating zones, it is necessary to choose optimum values for the air excess ratio and ignition timing. In the past, although it was possible to set values so that efficiency was maximized at the rated point using mechanical controls, it was difficult to set values to optimal levels through a wide range of partial load operation zones. In the GHC-5, the air excess ratio, ignition timing, and EGR are all electronically controlled. This has made possible to set each item to the optimum value throughout all operational zones. As a result, power levels equivalent to the GHC-4 could be ensured even though
Ratio compared with the existing model (%)
From regulator (fuel gas)
120 100 80 60 40
0 Seasonal gas consumption*1
Seasonal NOx emission levels*2 *1: Estimated for office use based on JRA 4048 *2: 12 mode value estimated based on JIS B 8627
the displacement of the engine was made smaller. In addition, seasonal gas consumption was reduced by as much as 80% and the NOx emission by as much as 60% over the previous system. Fig Fig.. 7 shows a comparison of these performance levels for both systems. 3.3 Reduction of operating noise As more and more business use air-conditioning units are installed in residential areas, there is growing demand for GHP outdoor units to exhibit lower levels of noise. As a result, one aim of this development was to produce a unit that has an operating noise level of only 60dB(A). For this purpose, an analysis was made of the contribution of each noise radiation surface of the GHC4, and radiation surfaces were defined that required countermeasures to accomplish the target operating noise as well as the required noise reduction levels. Measurements were carried out on various parts of the unit using the acoustic intensity method as part of the operating noise contribution analysis. This included measuring radiation noise from every surface part of the outdoor unit, engine suction and exhaust noise, and radiation noise from the heat exchanger, as well as certain specified radiation surfaces that have high noise contributions at each frequency. Acoustic intensity is calculated from sound pressure and surface normal veMitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. Technical Review Vol.39 No.2 (Jun. 2002)
Sound power [dB(A)]
: Panel : Basement : Suction : Exhaust
Secondary vibration isolation
Primary vibration isolation (hydraulic mount)
Secondary vibration isolation
1/30 ct of center frequency (Hz)
locity on vibrating structure. A feature of the acoustic intensity method is that the noise contribution from arbitrary radiation surface can be analyzed by multiplying the area of the vibrating body to them. The surface acoustic intensity probe used to measure the radiation noise from each part of the surface is a new one, which differs from a conventional two-microphone acoustic intensity probe. It measures accelerations on an vibrating surface directly and the sound pressure in its vicinity to calculate the acoustic intensity precisely. Fig Fig.. 8 shows the results of frequency analysis of the sound power from each radiation surface of the GHC-4. The x-axis indicates the A-weighted 1/3 octave center frequency bands, and the y-axis indicates the sound power spectrum A. It was obtained that the contribution of the engine suction and exhaust noise is high to the overall noise level of the system, and the radiation noise from the bottom plate contributes in the low frequency range. This result was used to estimate the operating noise reduction level required for the GHC-5. Then the suction air resonator and exhaust muffler were redesigned, and measures were implemented to insulate sound emanating from the bottom plate. In this way, the targeted operating noise levels could finally be attained. Furthermore, the quality of the operating noise was also improved since the much fluctuating suction and exhaust noise was reduced. 3.4 Extension of maintenance intervals MHI GHP uses a unique design in which the compressor is driven by direct connection to the engine. Whereas periodic replacement and adjustment of the belt are unavoidable in belt driven type systems which drive through a pulley, the direct connect drive system ensures considerably high reliability, since no maintenance is needed for the drive section. Moreover, special skill is not required when carrying out maintenance work as valve clearance adjustment is unnecessary, because the
hydraulic lash adjuster is adopted in the intake and exhaust cam lifters of the engine. This consequently makes it possible to service a lot of outdoor units on site within a short period of time, thereby resulting in reduced maintenance costs. In order to match the smaller engine displacement, the cooling performance of around the water-cooled cylinders and its vicinity has been improved, and the parameters of each kinetic part have been optimized, resulting in a reduction in engine oil consumption. Even though the intervals between periodic maintenance work have been extended from 8 000 hours to 10 000 hours compared with the GHC-4, the amount of oil replaced during maintenance has actually been reduced, because the amount of oil used to fill the system has been decreased to about 70% that of past levels.
4. Reliability improvement technology 4.1 Engine vibration isolation technology Engine vibration isolation is an important technical issue that has a significant impact on reliability, since it influences the vibration resistant design of the components within the unit. Thus, efforts were concentrated this time on improving engine vibration isolation in order to reduce vibration further. Since the release of the GHC-3 in 1988, a unique double engine vibration isolation system has been developed in the MHI GHP, which cannot be found in other company’s models. The aim of this system is to prevent structure-borne of the outer panels and the heat exchanger caused by vibration transferred from the engine as well as the vibration transfer to the facility to be prepared. In the double vibration isolation system, the directly connected engine and compressor are supported on the frame structure with vibration isolation (primary vibration isolation), while the entire frame is supported on a unit basement with yet another level of vibration isolation (secondary vibration isolation), with various pressure vessels fixed on this frame. Fig Fig.. 9 shows the double vibration isolation system of the GHC-5. In aimMitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. Technical Review Vol.39 No.2 (Jun. 2002)
: GHC-4 : GHC-5
Acceleration level (dB)
Engine rotational speed (rpm)
ing to improve the vibration isolation performance of the GHC-5, improvements were made to a liquid containing mount mainly used in automobiles (hereinafter called hydraulic mount), which was then applied as the primary vibration isolation. Fig Fig.. 10 shows the internal structure of the hydraulic mount. The hydraulic mount consists of an upper section that incorporates a cavity inside a solid rubber, a lower section with a diaphragm put up, and an orifice that connects these two sections. As liquids are contained inside both sections, when external forces are applied, elastic deformation of the solid rubber causes the liquids to transfer between both sections through the orifice due to volumetric changes in the upper section. A major feature of the hydraulic mount, which was developed aiming to optimize the vibration characteristics of this unit, is to effectively utilize the reacting force of the liquids. A dynamic spring constant was thus realized within the operating speed range of the engine that is lower than existing ones. At the same time, higher damping performance was adjusted to the natural frequency of engine vibration isolation system in order to restrain displacement during start up. In this way, it was possible to both suppress the excessive stress that occur during start up and reduce the transmission of vibration under unit operation. This resulted in a drastic reduction of the vibration level in the whole range of engine rotational speeds in the GHC-5 compared with existing systems. Fig Fig.. 11 compares the vibrations of the GHC-4 and 5 that are mounted on vibration isolation mounts (installed between the outdoor unit and the facility). 4. 2 Reliability improvement of compressor 4.2 A reciprocating type compressor was adopted as the compressor for the unit for which there is much experience with respect to durability. Various measures were
used to adopt the compressor to the GHP in order to improve the quality of the design. The main aim here was to improve the reliability drawing upon the abund a n t k n o w - h o w o b t a i n e d f r o m t h e E H P, b u s air-conditioning, refrigeration unit for truck and trailer, and similar types of systems. One example of this is the approach taken to ensure the oil viscosity of the compressor. Evaluations were made of the reliability of multi-indoor unit commercial use air-conditioning systems that must be able to accommodate various ways of operation and different installation configurations, assuming a range of operating conditions. In particular, if any liquid refrigerant were to flow into the compressor, a seizure could be developed due to inappropriate compressor lubrication since diluting of the refrigerator oil may decrease the viscosity of the oil. It was possible to suppress these risks for the MHI GHP by adopting the design structure described in the preceding paragraph, that is, the directly connected engine and compressor type design. This is because the heat transfer from the engine main unit maintains the compressor temperature at its appropriate level and prevents the refrigerant from migrating into the refrigerator oil. This design is widely used in the air-conditioning systems on large MHI tour buses and large-sized refrigeration vehicles that transport fresh foods in frozen and chilled storage. These systems have come to enjoy a high reputation among users.
5. Conclusion The GHC-5 was developed using the new technology and evaluation method described above in response to customer needs for systems that are capable of further reducing environmental loads and reducing maintenance management costs. It is expected that this unit will come to have a high market reputation in the future, not only in view of the high performance of the system but also in view of its reliability.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. Technical Review Vol.39 No.2 (Jun. 2002)
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