ROBUR's reversible ammonia-absorption heat pump, at AHR Expo 2024

Ammonia-Absorption Heat Pump Is Gaining Interest from U.S. Utilities

ROBUR is making progress with the unit in certain markets thanks to utility incentives.

Italian manufacturer ROBUR has been seeing “a lot of interest” from U.S. utilities and energy groups in supporting its reversible ammonia (R717)-absorption heat pump, said Scott Ward, in Applications and Technical Support for ROBUR.

The model GAHP-AR heat pump, suited for both commercial and large residential applications, was exhibited at the AHR Expo 2024, held in Chicago January 22–24.

Local utilities, by providing incentives and rebates for decarbonization technologies, are “making the technology more applicable in certain markets” where the company “hasn’t had a lot of support,” he said in an interview at the AHR Expo.

The ammonia-absorption heat pump, which was also showcased at the AHR Expo last year, was introduced in the U.S. at the AHR Expo in 2006. “It was ahead of its time,” said Ward, though he added that interest has been growing over the past five years.

[The ammonia-absorption heat pump] was ahead of its time.”

Scott Ward, in Applications and Technical Support for ROBUR

The heat pump generates heat and cold via an ammonia-absorption process triggered by natural gas. It is designed for custom residential homes 3,000ft2 (279m2) or larger as well as multi-family homes and other commercial buildings.

On the heating side, it can deliver both space heating and domestic hot water, with a capacity of 37.8kW (10.7TR), a GUE (Gas Utilization Efficiency) of 150% and a maximum outlet water temperature of 60°C (140°F); its cooling side capacity is 16.9kW (4.8TR) with cold water produced at 3°C (37°F). The unit contains 15 to 17lbs (6.8 to 7.7kg) of ammonia.

According to ROBUR, the heat pump offers efficiency levels in excess of 130% even at −7°C (19.4°F), “so it is also used in especially cold climates. No back-up systems are required.”

Another ammonia-absorption heat pump, the Anesi model from Stone Mountain Technologies, was also displayed at AHR Expo 2024.

Commercial and residential heat pumps using CO2 (R744) that were exhibited at AHR Expo 2024 are designed to provide domestic hot water but not space heating. Propane (R290) heat pumps for residential applications, which deliver both, are not yet available in the U.S.

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