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FortisBC piloting new TC3 natural gas heat pump technology


July 20, 2021
By Anthony Capkun


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July 20, 2021 – FortisBC Energy Inc. and New York-based ThermoLift Inc. will begin field tests of residential fuel-flexible heat pumps for single-family homes—the first pilot in North America, they claim.

ThermoLift’s Thermal Compression Climate Control (TC3) unit is a single appliance for space and water heating for residential and commercial settings. It will be tested in a variety of residential properties to evaluate its operational efficiency in British Columbia.

The sites were selected following a months-long screening process with FortisBC’s Conservation & Energy Management Team and ThermoLift, reports the latter.

“These are the very best proving grounds we could have asked for, where the most fuel is consumed during the winter months,” said Paul Schwartz, co-founder and director, ThermoLift. “As energy transitions, the TC3 will help meet future zero emission heat and hot water goals.”

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Based on the Hofbauer Cycle and powered by hydrogen, biofuels or natural gas, this toxin-free refrigerant system functions as a boiler or furnace, water heater and air-conditioner.

Jim Kobialko, program manager of innovative technologies & projects, FortisBC, said that “after seeing how these performed in lab settings, we’re optimistic that these new natural gas heat pump technologies are going to be key to reaching efficiencies greater than 100% and fill a much-needed gap in the marketplace”.

Should the TC3 perform as well in the field trial as it does in the lab, it will reduce GHG emissions and associated energy costs by as much as half, and be pivotal in meeting more stringent federal and local GHG reduction targets and pending energy efficiency legislation, say the partners.

“We’re really excited to observe how the TC3 performs in British Columbia’s diverse weather conditions, and are expecting to receive the final evaluation reports in the fall of 2022,” added Kobialko.

ThermoLift Inc. is headquartered at the Advanced Energy Research & Technology Center (AERTC) in Stony Brook, N.Y., and an affiliate of Stony Brook University’s Clean Energy Business Incubator Program (CEBIP).

Since 2009, FortisBC has evaluated more than 220 products, and 19 of these became pilot programs. All piloted technologies transitioned to full-scale conservation programs that provide incentives for customers to upgrade to more energy-efficient equipment and appliances.

As part of its 30BY30 goal of reducing of GHG emissions from its customers by 30% by 2030, FortisBC plans to invest an additional $10 million in pilots like this over the next five years.