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French startup uses hi-fi speakers to develop eco-friendly heat pumps

Amid the climate and energy crisis, heat pumps have emerged in the home heating market as a technology that can replace gas and oil while reducing energy bills. Yet their air compression systems require refrigerants to operate. These refrigerants, also known as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), are among the most potent greenhouse gases.

Founded in 2017 and have raised €5 million, French deep tech startup Balance strives for a more ecological alternative. To this end, it has developed a new acoustic heat pump core that harnesses the energy of sound.

The so-called acoustic heat pump (AHP) can cover the heating needs of a household without the use of refrigerants. Instead, its operation is based on the phenomenon of thermoacoustics – the convergence of thermals, acoustics and fluid mechanics.

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The core works with a high-fidelity (Hi-Fi) loudspeaker powered by electricity, which generates an acoustic wave in tubes filled with helium – a neutral and non-toxic gas that accelerates the propagation of sound. The acoustic wave causes the gas to compress or expand, creating heat or cold, respectively. It remains locked into the system, allowing the machine to be silent.

acoustic heat pump