Energy saving heat pumps

Gas heat pumps

Could heat pumps be the answer to global warming?

It has just been announced that 2016 was the hottest year on record and the average temperature has risen for the past 3 years. We are now very close to reaching 1.5deg C above pre-industrial average temperatures, the upper limit set by the 2015 Paris climate change agreement.

The heat we need to keep warm is normally produced by burning fossil fuels, this will increase global temperatures and put more CO2 into the atmosphere (which traps more heat from the sun adding to global warming).

An alternative to burning fossil fuels is to use a heat pump to make something (air, water or the ground) colder and something else hotter. Heat pumps work by compressing gas at constant temperature, as the gas expands the temperature falls. This requires some input of energy but it is significantly less than would be required for the same increase in temperature by burning fossil fuel.

A refrigerator makes the air within a closed box colder resulting in a very small increase in temperature of the room. A heat pump increases the temperature of a building by reducing the heat of the outside air. The energy source for a heat pump is normally electricity but there are gas powered refrigerators which work by use of heat to separate ammonia gas from a water ammonia solution and then achieve cooling as the ammonia condenses, this process also produces waste heat.

Gas powered heat pumps are available. Is it possible to use some of the heat output from these heat pumps as the heat source to make the process work?