Tuesday 19 September 2023

Heat pump beats energy waste: Mimicking the heart’s rhythm

Heat pump beats energy waste: Mimicking the heart’s rhythm

Efficiently moving liquids has always been a goal in many industries, from big factories to home heating systems.

Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (ISTA) took inspiration from how our hearts pump blood to find ways to make this process more efficient.

Around 20% of the world's electricity is used for pumping liquids, like oil, gas or hot water for heating.

To cut down on this massive energy use, researchers led by Davide Scarselli and Björn Hof at ISTA tried to mimic the heart's pulsing action.

They conducted experiments with clear pipes of different sizes to pump water and reduce friction caused by turbulence, which is like swirling and churning in the pipes.

They used tiny particles and lasers to see the turbulence.

They found that by pulsing the pumps like the human heart, with short breaks between pulses, they could reduce friction by 27% and save 9% of the energy used.

Professor Björn Hof emphasised the potential applications of this research, particularly in the context of biological systems, where reduced turbulence is advantageous to protect sensitive cells in blood vessels from shear stress.

However, he acknowledged the challenges of implementing this method in real-world applications, as it would require modifying existing pumps to produce pulsating motions.

Written by

Bruna Pinhoni

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