Heat pump hot water system, sectioned, 'Turbo Compact Eyre, 270 litre', steel / glass / aluminium / copper / plastic / polyurethane foam, Quantum Energy Pty Ltd, Australia, 2001
The heat pump is acknowledged as the world's most energy efficient method of hot water production. Its significance over other hot water systems such as direct solar heating is that it absorbs heat from the air in any weather, day and night. The heat pump can be defined as a machine which pumps heat from a low temperature source to a high temperature reservoir.
The Quantum solar hot water system works on the same principle as a compression-cycle refrigerator, using a refrigerant gas to draw heat out of one space and discharge it into another. It absorbs heat energy from the atmosphere to vaporise the refrigerant. The vapour is then compressed and passed through pipes around the outside of the water storage tank, forming the condenser. As the refrigerant vapour condenses back to its liquid form, it gives off heat to the stored water.
Using a heat pump, all the hot water requirements for a family of four can be met at a cost of 30c per day. This could represent a saving of up to 75% for the hot water portion of a domestic energy bill and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of around 3 tonnes each year.
This heat pump was wholly designed and manufactured in Australia. Initial research and development occurred at the University of Melbourne in the 1970s and production by Siddons Industries Ltd in the 1980s. The heat pump hot water systems are currently being manufactured by Quantum Energy Pty Ltd in Adamstown, NSW.
Assistant Curator, Transport
The heat pump technology used in Quantum water heaters was developed in the mid 1970s as the result of extensive research undertaken at the University of Melbourne, led by Professor William Charters. In 1978 a licence was granted to Siddons Industries Ltd to further develop and manufacture the product. Various applications for this unique technology were investigated, including pool heating/cooling and process heating, until it was decided that a domestic water heater had the best chance of success. It was marketed as the Siddons Heat Pump.
A fifty-unit domestic field trial program was initiated in the Sydney area commencing in January 1985, and pilot manufacture was set up in a Siddons subsidiary factory/warehouse in Silverwater Road, Silverwater. At the same time production units were being tested at the University of NSW. In March 1986 the "Solarplus" water heater was launched on the New South Wales market at the Sydney Royal Easter Show. Soon improved production facilities were required and a 1100 square metre factory/office complex was established at 109 Long St, Smithfield.
During 1988 and 1989 several new products were developed to extend the range of mains pressure heat pump water heaters.
Allowing for completion of production tests, the product was patented in Australia and overseas countries including USA, Japan, South Korea, China and Malaysia, with other overseas patents currently pending.
On 1 May 1998 Steve Harmon and Ron Perry, both residents and businessmen of Newcastle, purchased the company from the Siddons family and relocated it to the Newcastle area. They purchased both 100 percent of the Australian patent and the world manufacturing rights held by Quantum Energy Systems Pty Ltd and 50 percent of the world patent rights held through Quantum Energy Systems (International Pty Ltd). Quantum Energy has established a full-time research and development section headed by an engineer with a doctorate in solar energy applications. Their products are now manufactured at Adamstown, NSW.
Quantum heat pump systems have been exported to many countries including Italy, New Zealand, Fiji, Malaysia and Singapore. Notable installations include the Raffles Hotel and the Royal Crown Plaza in Singapore. They are used for domestic, commercial industrial, swimming pool and space heating.