Cleaner air is a matter of life and death in China today. The World Health Organization estimates that air pollution contributes to 17 percent of all deaths in the country, or as many as 4,000 deaths per day.
Much of the country’s air-quality issues tie back to its traditional dependence on coal for fuel. It’s a dependence that China is working to break, and quickly, as it seeks to reduce health risks as well as greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. Home heating is a major focus of these efforts, specifically shifting homes and buildings from coal-burning heat plants to highly efficient heat pumps.
A heat pump is an electric-powered air conditioner that can also operate in reverse during the winter – absorbing heat from the outdoor environment and circulating it to heat indoor spaces. Heat pumps account for about 80 percent of residential air conditioning systems sold in China.
Problem is, traditional heat pump technology wasn’t effective enough to bring the heat in China’s northern provinces, where temperatures rarely rise above 30 degrees Fahrenheit between January and March. In many of these northern communities, coal-fired plants remained in place as the only option to help keep more than 500 million citizens warm.
With aggressive government objectives to reduce CO2 emissions by 18 percent between 2015 and 2020, China needed a more effective and broad-reaching heat pump solution to help make coal heat obsolete. Emerson answered the call by advancing its Copeland Scroll compressor technology, which serves as the “engine” for heat pump units. Millions of homeowners in China now have the opportunity to reduce their reliance on coal and prevent millions of tons of CO2emissions.
Emerson engineers solved the cold-weather weakness of conventional heat pumps by developing an innovative new heating technology for its Copeland Scroll compressor, enabling the first-ever heat pump systems that can operate efficiently and effectively at low outdoor temperatures. Additionally, heat pump systems with Emerson’s Copeland Scroll Heating technology are 20 percent more energy efficient than a traditional hot-water system heated using a coal-fired boiler.
Emerson also supported the Chinese government in efforts to establish policy to facilitate the transition to heat pump technology and collaborated with OEM partners to deliver units that were up to the task for northern Chinese homes and buildings.
Emerson’s scroll compressor heating technology is now being used by major heat pump manufacturers in Asia, including Samsung and Gree, to provide homeowners and businesses with an efficient and effective alternative for central heating and cooling. The new heat pump systems are being used in residential apartment buildings, villas, and other residential community developments, as well as light commercial installations.
More than 150,000 heat pump units using Emerson’s scroll compressor technology were installed in China in 2016, each helping to reduce China’s carbon footprint while providing modern indoor comfort for its residents. Expansion of heat pumps contributed to a 4.7 percent reduction in China’s overall coal use compared with 2015, marking the third consecutive year that China has reduced coal consumption.
As more and more Chinese householders adopt this innovative technology, we see a world of potential—and that’s a breath of fresh air.