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Heat pump like a unique clockmaker’s work


The heat pump at Viru Keskus is like a Swiss clock assembled from the best parts, where every tiny detail inside works in harmony with others to save energy at the right time. The device was manufactured by the Estonian company Coolpar.

The cooling system at Viru Keskus needed replacement, and the owner of the building wanted to find a modern, environmentally friendly, and energy-efficient solution. The previous system had the disadvantages of high energy consumption and waste heat simply dissipating outside. The new smart heat pump hybrid system directs the collected waste heat back to the heat exchange unit, where the energy is smartly directed for the specific purpose the building currently needs.

“A regular cooling device operates at peak load maybe only two to four weeks a year, depending on the weather, and is pure electricity consumption to ensure indoor climate and comfort. But a heat pump starts to transport energy around the building, provides energy savings, and actually reduces heating costs, especially during the spring and autumn seasons when some parts of the building require heating and others require cooling,” explains Kristjan Liivrand, CEO of Coolpar. According to him, the payback period for a top-of-the-line heat pump is usually around four years, and after that, the device starts generating profits.

Quality components

The heat pump at Viru Keskus is specifically designed for this building and constructed by Coolpar’s specialists in Estonia. Why choose a custom-made solution instead of a factory-assembled device?

There are several reasons, starting with the quality of the components, which significantly affects the efficiency of the heat pump. Liivrand proudly showcases Bitzer’s highly efficient inverter compressor with a permanent magnet motor, whose IQ module makes the compressor’s operation smoother and extends the device’s lifespan.

The Bitzer SQD evaporator technology with electronic expansion valves ensures proper filling of the evaporator and precise superheating that outdated solutions with thermal balloons cannot achieve. “Even from the logs, it is evident that the evaporation processes are very accurate and the readings are stable,” explains Liivrand, pointing to colorful graphs on the heat pump’s control panel, showing a fluctuation of 0.1-0.2 degrees. “This is a very good result. The more stable, the more efficient,” says Liivrand.

Heating and cooling simultaneously

“Our heat pump can both heat and cool simultaneously thanks to the integrated hydraulic module,” explains the CEO of Coolpar.

The heat pump generates its energy through the hydraulic module, which is connected to the building’s heating, cooling, and ventilation systems. Depending on where energy is currently needed, it is directed there.

To ensure optimal and current climate conditions in each specific room with maximum energy efficiency, the building management system collects information from thousands of control points throughout the building. Even the dimensions of the heat pump were precisely determined down to the millimeter so that it could be transported through the narrow corridors of Viru Keskus to its designated location.

The building management system is integrated with the R8 Digital Operator software based on artificial intelligence, which optimizes the building’s energy consumption based on the input information. Developed by Estonian company R8 Technologies, the software controls and adjusts the operation of heating, cooling, and ventilation systems. As a result, continuous small automatic adjustments are made to these systems (which can add up to thousands per day) to maintain a consistent desired indoor climate and achieve the highest energy efficiency.

Margus Kolumbus, the Chief maintenace manager of Viru Keskus, comments, “During our internal renovation process, we not only updated the visible elements but also refurbished numerous technical systems to ensure sustainable solutions and cost savings. Since the Viru Keskus building was designed and constructed over several decades, finding a special solution for the heat pump was necessary to meet the requirements of Estonia’s most visited location. The result is an intelligent heat exchange pump that utilizes excess heating or cooling from systems purchased or generated during the center’s operations. As these are surplus resources, they essentially have no production cost. Thanks to the new heat exchange system, we expect to see savings in electricity and cooling costs, which will also be reflected in the bills of the center’s tenants.”

Data analysis is crucial

Liivrand showcases the heat pump’s “black box,” which can store information from thousands of control points, even on a per-second basis. The data volume can reach several gigabytes per year.

Collecting accurate data and analyzing it is crucial for achieving system efficiency, he says. The analysis of the heat pump’s data can also provide information about discrepancies within the building’s own systems. Liivrand gives an example of how, based on the heat pump readings, they identified a problem where the ventilation intake value and the antifreeze protection logarithms were conflicting, causing the ventilation drive to rapidly cycle on and off, resulting in energy consumption fluctuations that also affected the heat pump’s operation. Once the issue was identified, the system became more stable.

“The more uniform we can keep the heat pump’s operation and the lower the inlet temperature, the more efficient it becomes,” says Liivrand.

Onninen’s Cooling and Cold Product Solution Manager, Erki Sirel, says that he also deeply engaged in the development of this unique solution. “Systems are becoming increasingly complex, leading to greater energy savings. Onninen believes that the future belongs to high-tech solutions,” he confirms.

Coolpar has produced heat pumps and cooling devices for several major centers, such as Tornimäe Business Center, Kristiine Center, and Telia’s server cooling. Kristjan Liivrand emphasizes the importance of ordering high-tech heat pumps from our own manufacturers. This provides employment for our highly skilled professionals and, of course, keeps the money within our own country’s economy that would otherwise flow abroad. The client receives an energy-efficient solution tailored to their specific needs, with guaranteed on-site technical support.

Article from Onninen Eesti.

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