AHEAD - Advanced Heat Pump Demonstrator

Foto © Takeda Manufacturing Austria AG

AHEAD provides a solution for the great need for environmentally friendly heat supply in industrial processes, which has so far mainly been covered by natural gas. In the AHEAD project, an innovative heat pump system is being demonstrated at Takeda in Vienna. It consists of an SPH Sustainable Process Heat steam generating heat pump adapted to use natural refrigerants and combined with steam compressors to generate steam at 11 bar (a)/184°C. This heat pump solution has the potential to generate almost CO₂-free steam in over 7 months.

This corresponds to a potential CO₂ reduction of approx. 80% and means a saving of around 1600 tons of CO₂ per year at one of Takeda's largest pharmaceutical production sites at Lange Allee 24 in Vienna. This is an important milestone on the way to achieving Takeda's global sustainability goals of operating its production sites with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions before 2035. Furthermore, a concept for the roll-out of the AHEAD system will be developed for Takeda locations in Vienna and worldwide and the decarbonization potential of this technology will be examined for the most important sectors (paper, chemicals and petrochemicals, food) in Austria.

The innovations of this project are the steam-generating heat pump, which is adapted to use the natural refrigerant butane and is combined with steam compressors to achieve the highest heat utilization temperatures to date. The AHEAD system is designed to meet Takeda's requirements (11 bar(a)/184 °C) and can be expanded to temperatures of 200-260 °C without further development. AIT will develop an optimized operating strategy for the AHEAD system and the heat source using a comprehensive system model to operate the system with minimal energy requirements. A novel approach is developed to determine the decarbonization potential, which combines process requirements and expected process changes, learning curves for high-temperature heat pumps based on the experience of the demonstration operation and possible optimizations, as well as statistical data.

„The AHEAD project is a new milestone in the development of industrial heat pumps. The AHEAD system uses waste heat from the cold supply to produce steam, using heat pumps with natural refrigerants and steam compressors. This system can therefore be easily transferred to other sectors. AHEAD should serve as a practical example for Austrian industrial companies wanting to decarbonize their processes.“

Veronika Wilk
Project manager AHEAD,
AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH


  1. Heat pump design and on-site integration planning completed
  2. Tests on the test stand successfully completed
  3. AHEAD system installed at Takeda
  4. System model created
  5. Commissioning of the AHEAD system successfully completed
  6. Evaluation after 4000 hours of operation of the AHEAD system
  7. Concept created for the dissemination of the AHEAD system
  8. Decarbonisation potential determined for Austria

Mission Innovation Net-Zero Industries Award: AHEAD is National Winner in the category 'Outstanding Project'

19. December 2023

On December 19, 2023, the NEFI project AHEAD (Advanced Heat Pump Demonstrator) was honored with the international Net-Zero Industries Award in the category 'Outstanding Project' during a ceremonial event in Vienna. The aim of AHEAD is to develop and demonstrate an environmentally friendly alternative to natural gas for supplying heat to industrial processes using a steam-generating heat pump.

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Dampf ohne Gas

25. January 2023

Am 25.Jänner 2023 wurde das neue NEFI-Projekt AHEAD (Advanced Heat Pump Demonstrator) gemeinsam mit dem biopharmazeutische Unternehmen Takeda, mit dem BMK, dem Klima- und Energiefonds und dem AIT Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT) in Wien präsentiert.

Unter der Leitung des AIT Center for Energy wird erstmals eine dampferzeugende Wärmepumpe im industriellen Betrieb integriert. Die erdgasfreie Dampferzeugung zielt darauf ab, eine CO₂-Reduktion von bis zu 90 Prozent an einem der größten Takeda-Arzneimittelproduktionsstandorte in Wien zu erreichen und dabei ausschließlich natürliche Kältemittel zu verwenden.

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Project management
AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH
Project manager
Veronika Wilk
AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH
Key facts
Running time:
12/22 – 11/25
Project volume:
€ 1.335.975
Project overview