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Novel approaches to the design of domestic solar hot water systems

Guarnieri, Raniero Alberto (2005) Novel approaches to the design of domestic solar hot water systems. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.

Abstract

Domestic solar hot water units, if properly designed, are capable of providing all hot water needs in an environmentally friendly and cost-effective way. Despite 50 years of development, commercial technology has not yet achieved substantial market penetration compared to mainstream electric and gas options. Therefore, alternate designs are warranted if they can offer similar or greater performance for a comparable cost to conventional units. This study proved that such alternatives are possible by designing and testing two novel solar hot water systems (SHWS). The first system used compound parabolic collector (CPC) panels to concentrate solar energy and produce steam. The steam moved from a rooftop downward into a heat exchange pipe within a ground level water tank, heating the water, condensing and falling into a receptacle. The operation was entirely passive, since the condensate was pulled up due to the partial vacuum that occurred after system cooling. Efficiencies of up to 40% were obtained. The second system used an air heater panel. Air was circulated in open and closed loop configuration (air recycling) by means of a fan/blower motor and was forced across a compact heat exchanger coupled to a water tank. This produced a natural thermosiphon flow heating the water. Air recycling mode provided higher system efficiencies: 34% vs. 27%. The concurrent development of an analytical model that reasonably predicted heat transfer dynamics of these systems allowed 1) performance optimisation for specific input/starting operating conditions and 2) virtual design improvements. The merit of this model lay in its acceptable accuracy in spite of its simplicity. By optimising for operating conditions and parameter design, both systems are capable of providing over 30 MJ of useful domestic hot water on clear days, which equates roughly to an increase of 35°C in a 200 L water tank. This will satisfy, on average, daily hot water requirements for a 4-person household, particularly in low-latitude regions (eg. Queensland). Preliminary costing for these systems puts them on par with conventional units, with the passive, remotely coupled, low maintenance, CPC SHWS comparable to higher end models. The air heater SHWS, by contrast, was much more economical and easier to build and handle, but at the trade-off cost of 1) the need for an active system, 2) increased maintenance and running costs and 3) the requirement for a temperature control mechanism that would protect the panel body by dumping hot air trapped inside if stagnation were to occur.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 16056
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Edmonds, Ian& Michael, Gregory
Keywords: Domestic Solar Hot Water Systems, Concentrating Optics, Compound Parabolic Collectors, Solar Selective Surface, Self-Pump, Air Heater Panel, Compact Heat Exchanger, Sun-Earth Geometry
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Department: Faculty of Science
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 13:55
Last Modified: 29 Oct 2011 05:42

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