Q-ton water heat pump – a hot water solution

Located in Pontville, Tasmania the Shene Estate and Distillery has been using locally sourced ingredients and traditional methods to produce some of Australia’s best gin and single malt whiskeys.

The distillery’s world famous Poltergeist Gin was awarded a Double Gold medal at the 2017 San Francisco International Spirits Competition and a Gold Medal and the World Gin awards in the same year, making it one of Tasmania’s most celebrated gins.

To produce the award-winning gin and single-malt whiskey, the distillery uses traditional distilling methods which utilises hot water to heat the barley mash.

Each day, 6,000 litres of hot water is required, initially at 90°C, with the temperature then reduced to approximately 64°C-65°C, the optimum temperature to dissolve sugars contained within the starch of malted barley.

READ: Environmentally friendly, cost saving hot water solutions

Finally, the temperature is brought up again to 70°C at the end of the mashing-in process to dissolve enzymes. Given the growing production output of the distillery, this has resulted in a huge amount of water being used each day.

Conventionally, the water used in the above process is heated using an instantaneous electric hot water heater.

However, with ever increasing electricity prices, this was becoming expensive and unsustainable for the business.

While the alternative of gas was originally considered, given the estate is not connected to any gas grid, this was ruled out. An alternative and more energy-efficient hot water solution that could operate in the low outdoor temperatures was required.

The Q-ton is an industry-leading air-to-water heat pump that utilises natural refrigerant CO2 to deliver a reliable and highly efficient hot water solution in even the coldest temperatures.

The Q-ton heat pump draws air through an evaporator that contains CO2 refrigerant, which absorbs the heat in the air. 

The two-stage compressor compresses the refrigerant under high pressure to raise its temperature, while an on-board heat exchanger uses heat from the refrigerant to generate hot water, which is then stored in cylinders for sanitary use.

The Q-ton can deliver continued performance at low outdoor temperature conditions down to -25°C, making it suitable for the colder climates of Tasmania and allowing it to deliver accurate set point heated water, all year round.

The distillery’s existing water heater was only achieving a coefficient of performance (CoP) of 1, resulting in 48kW output from 48kW input.

The Q-ton can achieve a CoP of 4.3, and is able to deliver 30kW of output power while only requiring 7kW input at nominal conditions.

The Q-ton is also energy efficient to run, delivering huge reductions in both running costs and CO2 emissions, with the distillery anticipated to save 60 per cent per year on their energy bills compared to an instantaneous heater.

In addition to this, with the Q-ton’s remote-control scheduling functions, the Q-ton can produce hot water during off peak electricity periods that can be stored in cylinders for later use, offering further cost savings.

Q-ton energy consumption is 76 per cent less than an electric line heater and 46 per cent less than a gas boiler. It produces 74 per cent less CO2 emissions (47 tonnes) than an electric heater and 48 per cent less emissions (23 tonnes) than a gas boiler, making it environmentally friendly.

The Q-ton air-to-water heat pump can be configured as a stand-alone unit, or operate with up to 16 units in modular configuration, providing 3,000 to 100,000 litres of sanitary hot water daily and can be controlled from a touch-screen control panel.

This enables programmability and flexible operation not possible with a conventional hot water system that includes an electric line heater.

By working closely with the owners of the Shene Estate, MHIAA was able to deliver a reliable hot water solution that will reduce the operation’s energy costs and deliver reliable hot water, even throughout Tasmania’s chilly winters.