In the current energy scenario, it is necessary to reduce fossil fuel consumption to achieve the far-sighted and stringent decarbonization goals. To date, heat is mainly produced through fossil fuels. Alternatively, electrically driven heat pumps can exploit renewable power to recover environmental and waste heat, offering energy efficient and environmentally friendly heating and cooling for applications ranging from domestic and commercial buildings to process industries.

Centrifugal compressors are already used as prime movers of the working fluid in heat pumps, thanks to their industrial replicability, compact size, affordable costs, and good performance in terms of efficiency and low noise. However, they are subject to instabilities such as surge and stall like any other dynamic compressor and these phenomena develop quite differently than in classic open-loop systems such as gas turbines. In fact, such peculiarity is mainly due to the closed loop configuration with real gases in two-phase conditions, occurring in typical heat pump cycles.

The aim of this paper is to experimentally investigate the behavior of a centrifugal compressor installed into an innovative close loop heat pump system under stable and unstable conditions from both vibrational and fluid-dynamic points of view. The impact of the main process parameters on the evolution of the instability is shown, highlighting how surge cycles change by varying system operating conditions. The experimental results shown in this paper can be a basis for the future development of validated mathematical models of closed loop heat pumps systems equipped with dynamic compressors.

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