Modelling the dynamics of domestic low-temperature heat pump heating systems for improved performance and thermal comfort : a systems approach

Sammanfattning: The present environmental concerns and the rising human requirement for solutions with better comfort and lower costs have resulted in an increased awareness for the energy use in the built environment. Technical advances in building structural systems and materials, heating and other comfort-providing systems and controlling strategies all lead to the integration of building technology with the function of buildings and the aesthetics. Therefore, in the process of improving the performance of energy systems and increasing the energy efficiency, integrated system approaches are of high importance. Performing the necessary energy analysis before any construction-installation occurs can help designers and decision makers reach guided solutions. Hence, a broad range of calculation tools for evaluating the operation of energy systems and the controls in buildings have been developed the latest years with different levels of complexity and angles of focus. However, research and development regarding holistic energy system designs and techniques are in their infancy. The standard tactic has been to isolate system parts, study them as stand-alone sub-systems and focus on optimising components or processes of a complex function. In the present study, it is demonstrated the necessity for uniting energy engineers, architects, installers and technicians regarding decision making upon the energy use for heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) in the built environment. Systems approach has been employed for studying the research issue that is presented in the current thesis. An extended part of this treatise has been devoted to systems thinking in practice. The thesis demonstrates systematic methods of modelling and analysing certain, integrated, domestic, HVAC applications. The reference system boundaries enclose the building as a construction and as a dynamic function, a comfort-providing system based on a heat pump, a low-temperature hydronic heat distribution system and controls in a residential application. Obviously, these are not the only components met in a hydronic heating system. Numerous pieces of equipment, as piping, circulating pumps, expansion tanks, zone valves, relief valves and other essential elements are needed to make a safe and functional heating system. However, this study focuses on the analysis of the chosen reference system. Several models have been developed in the computational tools of TRNSYS and EES. These tools have been employed because they allow co-solving, hence the integrated system as well as the interaction between the different parts of the system can be studied. The foremost result of this study is that approaching the system as a whole provides a better picture of the operation of every system component and the interaction between them. Explanations are given for the parameters that have a significant impact on the system’s performance. The thesis shows the importance of factors that are not easy to predict, as well as the difference in the building’s behaviour under fast changing thermal loads when the incorporated thermal mass is altered. Finally, implementing sophisticated controls for reducing the energy costs without compromising thermal comfort is vital.