Few people understand the workings of a heat pump, but everyone understands that heating and cooling costs money. A heat pump helps mitigate those costs, and Octopus has managed to both simplify the heat pump system, and do away with the need to dig deep into the earth for system installation. The result is an elegant, efficient, and cost effective system called the Ice-Stick.

Octopus inventor Kurt Karlsson created the Ice-Stick, a novel implementation of the classic heat pump consisting of a statue-like set of outdoor aluminum pipes that look a lot like, well, an icicle. These outdoor Ice-Stick pipes condense water vapor from the air, causing the refrigerant inside them to warm and evaporate. When the evaporated gas moves to Ice-Stick’s compressor (the system’s only moving part), pressurization raises the temperature of the refrigerant further. The system’s pump sends this accumulated heat through the water system of a home or building.  With the heat dispersed via a radiator (for example) and pressure lowered, the refrigerant is ready to travel back up to the evaporator to repeat the cycle.

A strong feature in the Octopus Ice-Stick is that the compressor is the system’s only moving part. This results in very limited need for maintenance and a life expectancy of the Ice-Stick outdoor unit that can be 50 years, with the pump lasting as long 25 years.  Octopus also devised a hybrid Ice-Stick that uses both air and geothermal sources for heat to help keep the system working efficiently in very cold climates. Though it cannot completely replace a home or building’s need for heat, it helps reduce energy usage by as much as 60% or more when compared to oil.

With 40% of the global CO2 emissions originating from buildings, solutions to radically reduce this impact are of great importance. The Ice-Stick can save 60 percent or more of the energy needed for heating buildings. It’s an inspiring application of a mature technology with a global potential yet to be realized. If one in five buildings in the targeted market installs a heat pump similar to the Ice-Stick the emissions of CO2 can be reduced by 29 million tonnes annually in 2020.

Ice-Stick trials are complete, and the system is now performing beautifully in over 10 countries. Octopus has begun working with exporters and plans to increase sales activities in both Europe and the US and Canada.

The major barrier toward a more widespread acceptance of Ice-Stick’s innovative approach is getting potential customers to understand and accept heat pumps as viable heating systems. Ice-Stick allows a user to set a desired temperature and walk away, with the system reliably keeping a home or building comfortable all year long.

Once consumers understand the ease of use and efficiency of the Ice-Stick, the next challenge is to find partners to install and distribute the product both within Sweden and internationally.

Kurt Karlsson, inventor of the Ice-Stick, has worked with climate and energy products since 1967. Knut Nordahl, grandchild of Kurt Karlsson, joined the company in 2003. Kurt Karlsson works with innovation and production while Knut Nordahl works with market and technology.