Refrigeration and heat pump systems play an important role in energy technology for heating and cooling.
Particularly in the field of building air conditioning and heating, these systems are an energy-efficient way of producing heat and cold with low energy input. But heat pumps can also make a key contribution to process heating and cooling. High-temperature heat pumps in particular can reduce CO2 emissions in the industry. Optimization potential can also be found in special refrigeration applications such as freeze drying. 

At BOKU, research is being conducted on innovative refrigeration technology systems, but also on intelligent control concepts for these systems in the industrial, commercial and building field. For further information, please contact DI Dr. Magdalena Wolf.

Current research initiatives and projects:

Refrigeration and heat pump technology, freeze drying, process simulation, exergy analysis, smart and innovative control systems


Demonstration of minimally invasive thermal and energy retrofits of classic 1950s - 60s apartment buildings

The project Sani60ies develops, tests and demonstrates a minimally invasive and socially acceptable refurbishment system with façade-integrated building component activation. The technology is being tested in "warm" refurbishments at two smaller properties before it is application in a 1960s housing development with over 200 apartments. The transferability of the system to the numerous building stock of unrenovated housing estates is the declared goal of the project.


Implementation of urban future quarters with networking of actors and legal and economic replicable solutions

The goals of the ZQ3-Demo project are to promote the replication of Plus Energy District (PED) in order to make a relevant contribution to the national climate goals. In the project, the implementation of two demo quarters will be demonstrated and accompanied with accompanying research, monitoring and optimization, as well as replication in a follower replication in a follower neighborhood, the economic and ecological feasibility of PED in an urban context in real terms. The central element is the further development of technical system solutions to cross-quarter energy-flexible control concepts as a step in the direction of towards grid-serving neighborhoods. Further developments of the model predictive controller with weather-forecast data are carried out in a broader field.


VICC - Virtual Cooling Control

Optimization of building refrigeration systems by integration of virtual data points into the building control system

In the course of this project, optimization measures for the control of refrigeration systems for building air conditioning are derived on the basis of simulation models that provide virtual data points.

The basis for the modeling are existing systems, which are measured and examined in detail. Different re-cooling systems and different sizes of refrigeration systems are selected for the investigation.


TAB-Scale 3: Das Haus das in die Zukunft blickt

Development of an innovative forecast-based control system for TAB

Residential buildings with thermal component activation are not building standard. In this research project, a residential building with thermal activated components is equipped with an innovative, modelpredictive control concept.

In the building, the positive effect of the high thermal storage capacity is used to minimize the heating energy demand. For this purpose, weather forecast data are processed and a room temperature curve for the future is predicted in a building model. An optimization algorithm is used to adapt the room temperature curve to a user setpoint and thus determine the necessary heating energy requirement.

Optimization of refrigeration systems for freeze drying

Optimized plant dimensioning of freeze dryers refrigeration system based on process simulation

Freeze-drying processes are widely used in food and biotechnology. Freeze drying systems must be able to generate temperatures down to -80°C and vacuum down to 0.001 mbar.

These high requirements can also be applied to the refrigeration technology used in freeze dryer. In practice, plant planning and design is primarily based on empirical valuee. Technical guidelines and standards are lacking.

In a research cooperation with a company from the freeze drying sector, simulation-based calculation models are being developed in order to provide a technically sound process dimensioning.

Alpenland Zukunftshaus Wolkersdorf

Hygienically safe domestic hot water production with cascaded heat pumps and innovative, forecast-based controller for TAB

An innovative multi-storey residential building with thermal activated components is equipped with a hygienically safe cascaded water heating system and a model predictive control concept.

In the research project, different, cascaded water heating methods will be techno-economically investigated and evaluated. The most efficient system will be implemented in the planned residential building. In addition, an innovative control concept based on weather forecast data will be implemented for optimized heating and cooling operation.


High temperature heat pump testing station

Efficiency verification of high temperature heat pumps

To measure high temperature heat pump systems, a good infrastructure is very important because high temperature and pressure levels of the high temperature heat pump system requires special demand for the testing station. The hole system is designed for nominal pressures up to 25 bar and maximum temperatures of 200°C and covers a power range from 15 to 50 kW.

The testing bench runs with an energy efficient recycling heat system and allows individual adjustable temperature levels in the heat circle. With comprehensive measurement techniques, the detection of relevant parameters for scientific research is possible and allows the calculation of major energy operating numbers.


Survey of the thermal potential of large infrastructure projects for heat integration into urban energy grids

In this study, the thermal potentials of infrastructure objects as heat sources for urban systems are investigated.

The focus is on the Brenner Base Tunnel (BBT). The thermal heat source potential of the BBT is surveyed and an integration of the thermal energy into the district heating network of Innsbruck - in the form of an anergy or low-temperature district heating network - using heat pump systems is investigated.