Due to the surface water in the upper reaches of Yangtze River in China containing large amounts of silt and algae, high content of microorganisms and suspended solids, the water in Yangtze River cannot be used for cooling a heat pump directly. In this paper, the possibility of using Yangtze River, which goes through Chongqing, a city in southwest China, as a heat source–sink was investigated. Water temperature and quality of the Yangtze River in the Chongqing area were analyzed and the performance of water source heat pump units in different sediment concentrations, turbidity and algae material conditions were tested experimentally, and the water quality standards, in particular surface water conditions, in the Yangtze River region that adapt to energy-efficient heat pumps were also proposed. The experimental results show that the coefficient of performance heat pump falls by 3.73% to the greatest extent, and the fouling resistance of cooling water in the heat exchanger increases up to 25.6% in different water conditions. When the sediment concentration and the turbidity in the river water are no more than 100 g/m3 and 50 NTU respectively, the performance of the heat pump is better, which can be used as a suitable river water quality standard for river water source heat pumps.

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