Electrocaloric heat pumps
In the lighthouse project »ElKaWe«, six Fraunhofer Institutes under the direction of Fraunhofer IPM are working on the development of electrocaloric heat pumps for heating and cooling. Today, heat pumps work almost exclusively based on compressor technology. Electrocaloric heat pumps promise significantly higher efficiency and do not require harmful refrigerants. As part of the project, the scientists are developing ceramic and polymer-based electrocaloric materials and are working on an innovative system concept that enables particularly efficient heat dissipation.
Work in the project is intended to demonstrate that electrocaloric heat pumps have the potential to replace compressors in the long term. Heat pumps are an important component of the energy revolution, as they ensure optimized space heating and hot water generation. Powered by electricity generated from renewable sources, they form the missing link between electricity and heat generation. However, the number of heat pumps for air conditioning in buildings is growing slowly because compressor-based heat pumps are economically inefficient. In cooling technology, the gradual ban on refrigerants within the framework of the European »F-gas Regulation«, which aims at reducing fluorinated greenhouse gases, also makes alternative technologies desirable.