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Heat pump projects receive £5.3m funding

UK: The UK government has announced a further £5.3m in funding under its Heat Pump Ready scheme to support the development of innovative heat pump solutions.

The £5,327,789 of funding is split across nine projects in the Heat Pump Ready programme’s Stream 2 Wave 2 competition.

Established in 2022, Heat Pump Ready is funded by the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero as part of their Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP). It is a £1bn fund aiming to accelerate the  commercialisation of low-carbon technologies, systems and business models in power, buildings, and industry through the 2020s and 2030s.

The Heat Pump Ready Programme is split into three separate delivery streams:
Stream 1: Up to £30m of Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) funding for high-density heat pump deployment solutions;
Stream 2: Up to £25m for developing tools and technology for projects to overcome barriers to heat pump deployment; 
Stream 3: Up to £5m for trial support and learning.

The Stream 2 Wave 2 competition supports applied research and development projects, focused on driving down the lifetime costs of domestic heat pump deployment, and improving the domestic consumer experience and acceptability of heat pumps.

It aims to develop solutions that improve the ease of heat pump deployment in homes that are “complex to decarbonise” or solutions that could be deployed in “distress purchase” situations when a new home heating system is required urgently. It also seeks to improve performance and/or reduce costs of domestic heat pumps with the safe use of refrigerants below 150 GWP,  while reducing lifetime costs or improving the overall lifetime performance of domestic heat pumps.

Lead partner: Evergreen Energy Ltd
Grant total: £465,991.12
The HomelyLifetime software project is designed to create a step-change in proactive diagnosis, insights and communication of heat pump issues to installers and end users. The data would provide customers, installers, and service agents with up-to-date information about the performance of the heat pumps, and timely notification about developing issues. It is mainly designed to reassure homeowners that systems are behaving well, reducing the incentive to tinker. The developers say that when issues do occur – both acute issues and long-term impacting such as frequent short-cycling – the platform will give the same information to all parties allowing for efficient resolution.

Thermly Distress Diagnostics
Lead partner: Thermly Ltd
Partners: Lendology CIC
Grant total: £518,362.73
The Thermly Distress Diagnostics project seeks to develop software that will increase the incidence of households transitioning to a heat pump rather than defaulting to a fossil fuel boiler. It will provide pre-identified, near distress households with a tailored solution and then certainty in their route to a heat pump.

Nusku founders Russell Murchie and Matthew Whitefoot outside the Energy House test facility in Salford

Nusku heat pump for distressed purchases accelerator
Lead partner: Nusku Ltd
Partners: University of Salford
Grant total: £727,480.04
The Nusku project aim is to create an innovative heat pump solution which is designed specifically for an easy, cost-effective replacement of gas boilers, without the need for major internal home rework. 

The heat pump design is said to include all the required heat pump functionality in a sleek outdoor unit as an all-in-one replacement for a gas boiler.

The Flexible Heat Pump
Lead partner: Clear Blue Energy Ltd
Partners: Source Thermal Limited, University of Liverpool, Pragmatic Energy Limited 
Grant total: £773,156.36
The Flexible Heat Pump is described as a breakthrough innovation in the design and performance of vapour compression heat pumps. 

An invention of the project’s academic partner, the Flexible Heat Pump cycle introduces a heat storage device into the Evans-Perkins cycle to recover, store, and reuse part of the sensible heat carried by the hot liquid refrigerant from the condenser, achieving a higher cycle efficiency. 

It incorporates a compact thermal store integral to the vapour compression cycle, enabling the recovery of normally wasted heat, more efficient defrost cycles and secondary sources of heat input to be easily integrated. In addition, a multi-way valve enables the operating mode to be changed between heat store charging and discharging. As a result, it is said to outperform conventional heat pumps, increasing SCoPs by up to 20%.

The core technology was developed by The University of Glasgow and is protected by several international patents. Proof-of-concept prototypes have been built, demonstrating functionality, performance and control strategy.

In this project, the consortium will design a production intent version of the heat pump using R290 refrigerant. 

Pricing Engine for Heat Pump Subscriptionseat
Lead partner: Fornax
Grant total: £293,830
The Fornax project centres around the financial hurdles that exist for many in adopting heat pumps. The proposed subscription-based model directly tackles the high initial costs of installations, broadening accessibility while enhancing the quality of equipment installed and supporting skilled labour. 

The subscription proposed would cover design and planning, installation, regular servicing and maintenance, with homeowners receiving a predictable monthly payment.
The project will combine several technical innovations in a proprietary data model for a precise and robust understanding of the interrelationship between every factor in the consumer journey and product lifecycle, and how they relate to long-term cost and risk.

Smart Temperature Automation Technology (STAT)
Lead partner: Passiv
Grant total: £989,691.00
The Passiv Smart Thermostat (PST) is said to address the need for improved efficiency in heat pumps and helps consumers transition to low-carbon heating. It claims ongoing, future-proofed control capabilities including intelligent weather compensation that delivers an EST-validated COP improvement of 17%.

This project extends the functionality of the PST and enhances the consumer experience based on user feedback from project trials. It will develop a prototype that offers standalone connectivity and integration with the smart meter infrastructure. 

In doing so, the project leaders say that consumers will benefit from heat pumps that automatically optimise against their electricity tariff and provide a fully automated response to demand flexibility opportunities without the need for consumer intervention or any loss of consumer comfort. 

These benefits will be available to consumers for the price of a standard connected thermostat product with no service fee. 

Natural Refrigerant based Heat Pump (Natural Heat)
Lead partner: FeTu
Grant total: £465,763.11
At the heart of FeTu’s heat pump as an innovative compressor that can run at slow speeds and boasts “breakthrough” volumetric and thermal efficiencies. 

The project objective is to take FeTu’s heating and cooling system from technology readiness level 5 to TRL7, undertaking design, manufacture, assembly, and testing activities.

vTherme Hub
Lead partner: Vital Energi Utilities Limited
Partners: University of Birmingham
Grant total: £563,436.40
The Project is the development of a standardised modular vTherm Hub which incorporates innovations in heat generation and storage to supply heat as a service (HaaS) to homes in mid- and high-rise buildings. The vT Hub is designed to simplify and accelerate deployment using inherent flexibility to enable heat to be sold at affordable cost.

Lead partner: Mixergy Ltd 
Partners: Harlequin Manufacturing Ltd 
Grant total: £530,080.20 
Cubex is targeted at small homes and apartments which are difficult to decarbonise with conventional monobloc outdoor air-source heat pumps. By integrating a single thermal store (for provision of space heating and hot water) with a high performance, R290 heat pump head unit, Cubex intends to simplify installation whilst bringing a considerable reduction to the overall system cost. 

Cubex combines Mixergy’s integrated heat pump cylinder (iHP) with Harlequin’s Heat Stream thermal store. This combination is intended to reduce capital cost, installation time and space requirements.

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