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Content archived on 2024-05-14

Solar assisted absorption cooling machine with optimized utilization of solar energy

Exploitable results

In the actual project a solar-assisted gas-driven absorption cooling machine has been designed and built. First an extended simulation phase allowed comparing the real cooling demand of an ordinary house and hotel for several Iberian cities in a dynamic procedure. With these data as input the use of three solar-assisted cooling systems, namely a single-effect, a double-effect and a mixed-mode single/double-effect machine have been simulated in connection with three solar collectors of the type Compound Parabolic Concentrating: namely a commercial model, the same one with better insulation and at last a model with higher concentration. The resulting energy and economic features could be compared. Under the given technical conditions for the cooling machine and the solar collectors it turned out that the mixed-mode single/double-effect machine could achieve the maximal energy savings with only a small increase of the yearly costs as compared to standard single effect machines. On the basis of these results a prototype has been designed and manufactured. Besides the thermohydraulic optimisation of the unit for solar operation, attention has been given to a "commercially-friendly" design of the unit. In this sense the main heat exchangers have been built with a rectangular shape which allows us to achieve very compact total dimensions of the unit. Two further aspects of great importance have been investigated. These are the improvement of a solution distribution device operating with very low admission pressures and the rebuilding of a commercial water heater as a high temperature driving set-up for the prototype. Both experiments delivered positive results. An appropriate control strategy has been worked out with the target to maximise the share of solar heat coupled in the cooling machine. The following philosophy was to be enabled to meet the nominal cooling demand in solar driven mode by full solar availability and to glide continuously towards the gas-driven (high efficient) mode if necessary. Last but not least the completion of the data acquisition system and the implementation of vacuum tests for the main components of the unit have been done. A detailed measurement of the performance of the prototype chiller could not be achieved due to the time delay during the manufacture of the machine.

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