British engineering team wins prestigious IEA Heat Pump award

Andy Pearson
Managing Director - Contracts

Dr. Andrew Pearson and his Star team receive the Rittinger Medal for breakthrough heat pump technology that fights climate change

The team responsible for the world’s largest zero carbon 90°C (194°F) ammonia district heat pump, which has been installed in Scandinavia but designed and manufactured in Glasgow by Star Refrigeration, received the prestigious Rittinger Award at the International Heat Pump Conference in Montreal last night.

Dr. Pearson received the award for his groundbreaking research, design and development work in the field of heat pump technology. His pioneering technology has made it possible to deliver heat at high temperatures using ammonia, a non ozone depleting refrigerant with zero GWP, to run the system. The substitution of HFC gases for ammonia eliminates an equivalent of 800,000 km in car travel from gases leaking to the atmosphere.

The industrial water heat pump design allowed an energy efficiency increase of 25%, in comparison to conventional commercial heat pumps. It also permitted the use of renewable energy – hydroelectricity – ensuring the heat pump makes zero carbon heat available from a fjord.

The Rittinger award is granted every three years by the International Energy Agency Heat Pump Programme to deserving individuals or teams from member countries who have distinguished themselves in the advancement of heat pump technologies applications and market development, as well as dissemination activities with lasting international impact.

The award is named after Peter Ritter von Rittinger, an Austrian engineer credited with the design and installation of the first practical heat pump system in 1856.

Upon receiving the award, Dr. Pearson said:

“I am honoured to receive this award. I would also like to congratulate all those who have contributed to this development. Aside from the team at Star, whose effort helped realise the dream, I’d like to thank our suppliers, including Vilter Emerson who worked closely with us to develop a new industrial type of compressor to deliver the higher pressures. Our client Drammen Fjernvarme deserves a special mention for backing their vision up with terrific support to make it happen.”

“This award demonstrates the UK businesses strength in innovation and leading expertise in the technical design of climate friendly technologies.”

“I hope this accolade will help to raise awareness of the value of water source heat pumps.”

The large scale renewable district heating installation provides hot water and heating for the buildings, offices, schools, business and hospitals of the city of Drammen, a community near the capital city of Oslo with 63,000 people.

The 13MW industrial heat pump “harvests” heat from a local river and boosts it up to heat the equivalent of 6,000 homes, and 85% of the heat from the energy centre is fossil fuel free.

Continuing private investment in research and development of renewable energy technology makes a big contribution to our targets for a carbon-free future.

It is expected that the government’s RHI will influence the take up of water heat pumps, which have the potential to eradicate fuel poverty – it is estimated that Star’s industrial heat pump can generate enough heating for 6,000 homes, cut CO2 emissions by 14,050 tonnes a year, and save £1,500pa per household for 20 years if installed in the UK.

A video on the Star Refrigeration heat pump is available at:

About Dr. Andrew Pearson

Dr. Pearson joined Star Refrigeration in 1986 and has worked in sales and design, including a period as Technical Director prior to his appointment as Managing Director of Star’s Contracts Group in 1998.  He is past-President of the Institute of Refrigeration and Chairman of the Institute of Refrigeration’s Technical Committee. He has served two terms as a director of the International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration and is a member of the Refrigeration Safety Technical Committees for the British Standards Institute (BSI), the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) and the International Standards Organisation (ISO).

His principal interests are in the design of more efficient refrigeration systems and troubleshooting of faulty, inefficient or unreliable equipment. He also has a wide experience of safety issues related to ammonia and carbon dioxide systems. He has provided technical support in expert witness cases and has given specialist advice in support of general consultancy. 

Pearson has spoken at conferences around the world, including the IIR Congresses in The Hague, Sydney, Washington DC, Beijing and Prague, and at seminars in the United States, Australia and South Africa. He is a regular contributor to industry journals and magazines.

About Star Refrigeration

The Star Refrigeration group of companies offer a diverse range of products and services including design, manufacturing, contracting, aftercare, consultancy and training. The group operates in five main business sectors across all continents and has successfully delivered climate friendly technology in over 50 countries. 

A leading independent industrial refrigeration and heating engineering company, Star is renowned for innovation. It constantly pushes the boundaries of refrigeration, air conditioning and heating through the development of solutions which deliver best total cost of ownership value for its customers.

A pioneer in the use of natural refrigerants since its formation in 1970, Star works in partnership with its customers to deliver the perfect balance of economic, environmental and social factors to meet their businesses needs.

Star has an unrivalled track record of award winning products and services for its ground-breaking technological developments. Its achievements in the field of technical innovation in the cooling and heating industry includes over 100 patents including the development of non ozone-depleting refrigerants used to retrofit ACR systems around the world today.

Recognised as one of the top “100 Best Companies to Work For” by The Sunday Times, the company promotes youth employment through its apprenticeship scheme and employs 350 people across the UK from a network of branches in London, Oxford, Bristol, Derby, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Leeds and Newcastle.

British engineering team wins prestigious IEA Heat Pump award

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