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TECHNICAL AND ECONOMIC ANALYSIS OF A SOLAR –ASSISTED AIR-CONDITIONING SYSTEM Z. Sayadi1, S. El May1, Mahmoud Bourouis2, A. Bellagi1*
U. R. Thermique et Thermodynamique des Procédes Industriels, UTThPI Ecole Nationale d’Ingénieurs de Monastir, ENIM Avenue Ibn El Jazzar, 5019 Monastir, Tunisie 2 Mechanical Engineering Department, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, 43006 Tarragona, Spain * a.Bellagi@enim.rnu.tn
fluids (LiBr/water) is based on the following considerations. For a single-effect chiller, as the one proposed here, the driving fluid temperature is close to 100°C, a temperature range that evacuated tube collectors can ensure. In addition, it is reported that LiBr/water machines performance are higher than those working with a water/NH3 system . Finally, evaporation temperatures below 0°C are unnecessary in the air-conditioning sector, which allows the use of water as refrigerant. This paper analyses the technical and economic feasibility of a solar-powered air-conditioning system by means of mathematical modeling and numerical simulation using the software tools EES (Engineering Equation Solver, Flowchart Engineering) and TRNSYS (Transient Energy System Simulation program). A single effect water-cooled chiller is designed for a typical middle class family house (170 m2) under the climatic conditions of Tunis City. The solar-assisted air-conditioning system comprises the LiBr/H2O absorption machine, an evacuated tube field, a thermal back-up source provided by a gas heater, a hot water storage tank and fan coils for the house airconditioning.
In this paper, we present an analysis aiming at assessing the feasibility and economic performance of a solar-assisted air-conditioning system for a middle class house under the climatic conditions of Tunis City. A single effect water-lithium bromide absorption machine, with a cooling capacity of 10 kW is considered. Various simulations are carried out using the TRNSYS and EES programs. The calculations show that 30m2 of evacuated tube collector area with a thermal storage tank of about 1m3, can cover 87% of the energy needs of a water-cooled machine with a maximum driving heat temperature at 95°C. The total annual expenses for the water-cooling are about1608 US $.
During the last few decades, the increased fossil fuel energy consumption associated with the overloading of the electricity grid for air-conditioning purposes, especially at peak demand periods in hot summer increased dramatically in several countries, particularly in hot climate regions. In 1996, about 11000GWh primary energy were consumed in Europe alone by small air-conditioners up to a cooling capacity of 12 kW . This value is expected to increase by a factor of 4 by 2020. Energy conservation is an approach to reduce the disadvantages of the constantly growing energy demand of air-conditioning in both an economic and environmental sense. Single effect absorption chillers cooled by either air or water are best adapted for solar-assisted airconditioning systems with common solar collectors (flat plate collectors and evacuated tube collectors), as they require a rather low temperature heat input and can be relatively performent with a COP ranging between 0.6 and 0.8 . The appropriate working fluids pair is water-lithium bromide (LiBr). Gas-fired H2O/LiBr chillers are currently used in the low cooling capacity range starting at about 4 kW. Thus, it is possible to install these kinds of chillers for several building sizes, from single-family residential to large commercial buildings. The choice of the working pair 978-1-61284-266-0/10/$26.00 ©2010 IEEE
2. Lithium bromide-water absorption machine
The working principle of an absorption system (Fig. 1) is similar to that of a vapor compression machine with respect to the key components evaporator and condenser. The refrigerant (water) evaporates in the evaporator producing the useful cooling effect, Qev. The water vapor (3) flows to the absorber where it is absorbed by the salt rich solution (LiBr) returning from the generator (10). The absorber can be air- or water-cooled; in the latter case a cooling tower is necessary to keep the cooling process going. The dilute salt solution exiting the absorber (4) is pumped (5) through the regenerative solution heat exchanger-where it is pre-heated (6)--in the generator where it is heated above its boiling point temperature, so that refrigerant vapor is released (7). The concentrated 331
4. it is assumed that a gas heater provides the auxiliary thermal energy. The Performa has a block-box description of a component: inputs. alternative energy systems (wind. a water-cooling scenario with a cooling-tower is considered.or water-cooled condenser. other key components are the thermal storage unit. 4.1): The load sub-system: This is the distribution system for the cold medium (supply and return) It is connected to the delivery terminals located at space to be airconditioned in the building.) a back-up heat source incorporated. The condensate (1) is passed thereafter through an expansion valve where its pressure is so reduced as to provoke its partial evaporation causing a substantial decrease of its temperature. solar. including control strategies. As indicated earlier. The heat production sub-system: It provides the high temperature heat to the thermally driven air-conditioning system. The refrigerant flows finally in the evaporator (2) to complete the evaporation. 3. Solar cooling system A solar-assisted air-conditioning system for a singlefamily residential building is composed of three major sub-systems  (Fig. occupant behavior. outputs. such a situation can be avoided by finding out the appropriate operating conditions that must prevail in this machine compartment under which the crystallization cannot occur. from simple domestic hot water systems to the design and simulation of buildings and their equipment. crystallization of the salt may occur at higher salt concentrations and lower temperatures  as it can be the case in the salt rich solution on its way to the absorber after cooling in the solution HX.1 TRNSYS program description TRNSYS is a complete and extensible simulation environment for the transient simulation of systems. Absorption machine modeling and simulation using the EES software without considering that the driving heat is supplied to the generator by the solar components. The cold production sub-system. A TRNSYS project is typically setup by connecting components graphically in the ‘Simulation Studio’. 332 ThETA3_077 . It presents however the drawback of using water as cooling medium-rather scarce in arid and semi-arid regions--hence the need of a cooling-tower to minimize the water consumption. depending on the system needs (insufficient solar radiation. As discussed later in this paper. including multi-zone buildings. parameters. The choice of water-cooling is thermodynamically more favorable than air-cooling. photovoltaic. Sayadi et al. a component of TRNSYS. inadequate collector area. Z. It is used by engineers and researchers around the world to validate new energy concepts. solution (8) flows back to the absorber. Whole system simulation using TRNSYS. Solar-assisted air conditioning installation using LiBr/water absorption machine In the lithium-bromide water chillers. In this paper. The heat released in this unit by the absorber and the condenser is discharged indirectly to the environment through a cooling tower. Each ‘Type’ of component is described by a mathematical model in the TRNSYS simulation engine and has a set matching Performa’s in the simulation studio. The desorbed refrigerant (7) condenses in the air. Figure 1. hydrogen systems) . Furthermore. etc.Technical and economic analysis of a solar assisted air-conditioning system. etc. Solar air-conditioning system analysis The investigations of the solar cooling system consist of the four following steps: House cooling loads assessment using TRNBUILD. the pumps and the thermostat controllers. Technical-economical analysis of the solar cooling system to find out the optimal collector area and system components resulting in the best energy cost-performance. Besides the solar collector field.
10) (4.6) (4. evaporator.3 Chiller operating conditions 4. which fixes its nominal capacity to 7 kW.4) (4. It allows specifying all the building structure details. The construction is selected from a list with descriptions of standard constructions and materials . numerous simulations are carried out using the EES program . condenser. infiltration.11) (4. layers and walls type. solution heat exchanger.) have to be specified.1) (4. solution expansion valve. m 7 m1 ThETA3_077 333 Cooling capacity (kW) COP . In order to save energy while ensuring almost the same thermal comfort. two bathrooms and a kitchen. o Generator m 7 h7 m 8 h8 m 6 h6 Q g m12 h12 m11 h11 Q g (4.8) (4. Effect of the hot water inlet temperature on the performance of the machine o Absorber m 3 h3 m10 h10 m 4 h4 Q ab m14 h14 m13 h13 Q ab (4. such as window optical properties. Z. The model equations for the various equipment components (absorber. it is usual to consider that the machine covers the cooling needs of the house for 95% of the simulation period. as a multi-zone building (Type 56 in the TRNSYS library) with three bedrooms. internal gain. It turns out that the building’s cooling loads in hot summer are of 11.2 Cooling loads estimation The house considered has a 170 m2 floor area and it is modeled. Sayadi et al. comfort. generator. pump and throttle) are given below. Evolution of the cooling needs with the ambient air temperature in Tunis City during the simulation period May-October The cooling requirement is calculated by setting the desired indoor temperature at 26°C during the summer period from May to October.4 0.5 kW.1 0 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 6 4 2 0 Generator inlet temperature (°C) Figure 3.5) m3 m10 m 4 m14 m13 Qab (U A) ab ( LMTD) ab Figure 2. heating and cooling schedules. under the climatic conditions of Tunis city.12) In order to assess the performance of the chiller.3. a dining room.2 0. etc.Technical and economic analysis of a solar assisted air-conditioning system. a living room. The evolution of the cooling needs during this period is shown in figure 2.5 8 Qev (kW) 10 12 0. A number of pre-defined input parameters and variables (occupancy. The different zones are specified in TRNBUILD (building visual interface used to enter input data for multi-zone buildings). The convective and radiant losses and gains are calculated within TRNBUILD after selecting the zone construction.3 0.7 0.3) (4.7) (4. weather data.6 0. 4.9) m12 m11 Q g (U A) g ( LMTD) g o Condenser 4. 0.1 Machine model m 7 h7 m1 h1 Q c m16 h16 m15 h15 Q c (4.2) (4. ventilation. as well as everything that is needed to simulate the thermal behavior of the building. etc.8 COP 0.
45 58.686 1.15) o Evaporator m 3 h3 m 2 h2 Q ev m17 h17 m18 h18 Q ev (4.1 132.29) (4. m15 m16 m14 Qc (U A) c ( LMTD) c (4.45 Throttle m1 h1 m 2 h2 (4. Typical operating parameters for the water-cooled single effect LiBr/H2O chiller Cooling capacity (kW) 7 Solution heat exchanger effectiveness 0.36 82. Sayadi et al.25) (4.20) (4. Z.95 95 184.056 0.056 1.1 9. 4.31) increases with increasing generator temperature and can reach as a high value as 0.64 Solution flow rate (kg/s) Cooling medium flow rate (kg/s) Refrigerant flow rate (kg/s) Evaporator outlet temperature (°C) Evaporator pressure (kPa) Cooling medium temp. at condenser inlet °C) Cooling medium temp. Figure 3 shows that a hot water temperature of 95°C providing a cooling capacity of 7 kW is appropriate for our system.43 40. Table 1.22) (4.31 55.28) Location 1 2 3 4 m1 m 2 o Pump m 2 h2 m1 h1 (4. These two factors together specify the thermal power and the quality of the driving heat.26) m10 m 9 x10 x9 o The simulation performance results of the watercooled LiBr/water chiller are summarized in tables 2 and 3.1 9. Table 2.23) m5 m6 m8 m 9 x5 x 6 x8 x9 o Expansion valve m10 h10 m 9 h9 (4.053 0.056 0.3).8 0.003 0.3.17) (4.2 334 Cycle simulation ThETA3_077 .753 Solution HX m1 h1 m 9 h9 m 6 h6 m 5 h5 (4.6 2663 197.31) 9 10 11 4.31 0 58.1 4.7.1 9.4 132.1 9. at absorber inlet (°C) Chilled water temperatures (°C) (UA)c (kW K-1) (UA)ab (kW K-1) (UA)g (kW K-1) (UA)ev (kW K-1) 0.457 2.31 55.003 0.24) (4.753 1.003 9.053 0.056 0.4 2679 0.335 5 0.36 143. Simulation results m T H P (°C) (kJ/kg) (kg/s) (kPa) 44 184. A preliminary study was performed to investigate the effect of the driving heat temperature and the hot water flow rate on the performance of the machine (Fig.575 5 34 34 63.2 0.30) 5 6 7 8 x2 x1 o Chiller performance Qev Qg COP (4.Technical and economic analysis of a solar assisted air-conditioning system.19) (4.87 0. the machine produces far fewer cooling capacity.27) (4. It is noted however that small fluctuations of the hot water temperature can cause a significant decrease of the COP and consequently. It is found that the COP (Eq.003 0.45 58.87 32 29 12/7 0.84 0.18) m 2 m3 m17 m18 o The nominal operating conditions and the heat exchange characteristics of the different machine components are presented in table 1.16) (4.2 2510 82.21 52.14) (4.053 0.41 85.87 0.72 87.87 9.87 x (%) 0 0 0 55.1 0.13) (4.21) (4.
84 0. Z.8 1. Each component is referred to by a ‘Type’ number (for example Type 56) and represents a type block programmed in FORTRAN with inputs.36 29. The water flow rate per unit collector is 50 l/h m2. The solar sub-system consists of a 1 m3 hot water storage tank.32 29 31.3. evacuated tube collector tilted 35° from the horizontal and a thermal back-up source provided by a gas heater. Figure 4 presents the simulation model of the solar airconditioning system under TRNSYS environment. The back-up heat power varies between 0.84 1. Tunisia climate zoning Figure 4.958 10. We investigate the influence of the collector surface area on the solar gain and the auxiliary heat required (Fig. As expected.43 0.42 7.Technical and economic analysis of a solar assisted air-conditioning system. The pressurized water heating the generator temperature is maintained at 95°C for the water-cooled machine. Performance of the chiller Chiller component Energy (kW) Evaporator Absorber Generator Condenser Simulation results Qev 7 9. TRNSYS simulation model of the solar air-conditioning system ThETA3_077 335 . outputs and parameters. The simulation period extends from May to October corresponding to the hot period of the year where air-conditioning is required (Figure 2).88 32 34. 8). The absorption chiller hosts the chiller programmed in EES. 5).3345 In the following is a brief description of the different Types used in Figure 4. Each type corresponds to a FORTRAN subroutine. The necessary inputs from TRNSYS to EES program are the hot water temperature and flow rate driving the machine generator and coming from the insulated storage tank. Sayadi et al.004 2666 2554 2560 2560 2564 50. Table 3.84 1.3345 0. the larger the collector area. It is a utility subroutine which calls EES (external program) where the equations can be solved based on the component’s inputs and sends the results back to TRNSYS.3 Solar cooling simulations TRNSYS model The analysis is made for typical meteorological data for Tunis city in the Mediterranean zone (Fig. the more is the collected solar radiation and hence the produced heat and the lesser the auxiliary energy.463 Qab Qg Qc 4. 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 88.84 kW and 8 kW. ZT1 : Mediterranean zone ZT2 : North zone ZT3 : South zone Figure 5.16 12 7.84 1.
Thus. fossil fuel make-up energy is necessary to ensure the required pressurized water temperature of 95°C. We first calculate the discounted annual total costs C ATd by summing up all the discounted investment costs for each component of the entire system amortized for an expected life time of 15 years and the discounted annual expenses C Ad including the maintenance and inspection costs CM estimated as 2% of the investment charges and the operating energy costs (gas costs).28% for the year 2008.32) with the collector surface area. it gets higher with larger collector area.4% and the Discount Rate DR which is the rate of return required for a project to compensate for its risk. collector area Figure 7 shows the evolution of the solar fraction f f Quse Qbu C E Qbu CkWh (1 f ) (5. Auxiliary energy needs and solar gain vs. They depend on two parameters: the Increase in Energy Costs IEC estimated at 7.1) The energy costs are calculated as follows: Figure 6. (4. C Ad C (5. calculation of the discounted annual costs is based on the Eq.2) The annual expenses are not constant.3. collector area 336 ThETA3_077 .3) with DR (1 DR ) T (1 DR ) T 1 )t C T 15 t C A (1 DR) t (1 IEC ) (5. 11 10 9 8 7 Auxiliary energy Solar gain energy 5. in any case. Solar fraction vs. Sayadi et al. 5.5) DR (1 DR ) T (1 DR ) T 1 f (%) for a life-time period T=15 years. Z. the discounted annual total costs are calculated using the following equation C ATd C Id C Ad (5. Thus.Technical and economic analysis of a solar assisted air-conditioning system. Economical optimization We focus now attention on the cost performance analysis in order to assess the economic viability of the project.4) After estimating the discounted investment costs C Id 100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 5 10 15 C Id C I 0 (5. The above performed technical analysis is insufficient to find out the optimal collector surface for our solar air-conditioning installation because the economical aspects of the problem have not yet been considered. The annual costs are weighed up by the equation: Energy (kW) 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 Collector surface (m²) C A C E CM (5.6) Collector surface (m²) 20 25 30 35 40 Figure 7. The DR is estimated at 8. As observed. but the auxiliary energy is not vanishing even if the solar heat covers 100% of the energy needs of the system.
US $ Discounted annual costs.Y.  S .A. m CA CE CM C I0 C ATd IEC DR C kWh C Ad C Id T ThETA3_077 337 . 7. JP.. % Discounting rate. US $ Energy costs. Z. kW heat from the back-up. Further advantages of the absorption chilling are: reduced electricity demand and elimination of the use of harmful working fluids (CFCs. US $ Initial investment. 3005 2505 It can also be noted that the costs of the solar system can be further optimized by exploiting the solar collector field to produce solar heat to match other loads as space heating or domestic hot water production during winter. . TRNSYS. Guide to Developing Air-Cooled LiBr Absorption for Combined Heat and Power Applications. Sayadi et al. J.A. Klein. Kummer. Castaing-Lasvignottes. Kim & C. Klein. 2004. Energy Conversion and Management. 2009. US $ Maintenance costs.A. Because the evolution of the discounted annual and the investment costs with the collector area are opposed. These costs are rather high compared to those of a common air-conditioning system using vapor compression technique. kW K-1 Solar fraction. Costs (US $) Optimal collector surface Nomenclature C P Q T UA f Quse Qbu LMTD h x Coefficient of performance Pressure.  J.  D. so that the solar assisted air-conditioning system would become economically more viable. Distributed Energy Program Report. we have investigated the technical and economical feasibility of a solar air-conditioning system using a single effect lithium bromide watercooled machine with a nominal capacity of 7 kW. 1992-2008.S.A. kg s-1 Annual costs. On the other hand.  S. US $ Discounted annual costs. It is found that 30m2 evacuated tube collector area associated to a 1m3 hot water storage tank can covers 87% of the heat needs of the water-cooled H2O/LiBr chiller. Institut Français du Froid Industriel. Feng. Solar-Assisted Air conditioning in Buildings. is by The annual total costs of evaluated to 1608 $.  H.A. Westphalen. 2004-2007. CONCLUSION In this paper. % useful solar heat. Aspects Thermodynamiques et Technico-économiques des Systèmes à absorption liquide.M.a Transient Simulation Program user’s manual. We find that the minimum the total costs of about 1608 US $ per year. N. etc.  R. Mitchell. corresponding to a collector area of 30 m2. Duffie & Al. J. 1994. year 6.A. Duffie.A.Technical and economic analysis of a solar assisted air-conditioning system. % Cost of kWh of gas. the fossil fuel-based energy is expected to increase steadily in the future. kJ kg-1 % mass fraction of LiBr in salt solution mass flow rate. kW Temperature. The system is optimized for a middle typical house of 170 m2. University of Wisconsin-Madison. Bechkman. U. US $ Increasing Energy Cost. °C Thermal conductance. Zogg & M. W. 2005. User’s manual and program documentation. kW Logarithm temperature difference Specific enthalpy. CHFC’s.). Economical analysis The results of the economical analysis are represented in figure 8. In press. EES. Springer Wien New York. References 2005 Total costs 1505 1005 Investment costs 30 m2 505 Annual costs 5 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 Collector surface (m²) Figure 8.S Department of Energy. Infante Ferreira. Henning. US $ costs Expected life-time. “Air-cooled LiBrwater absorption chillers for solar air-conditioning in extremely hot weathers”. the discounted total fees exhibits a minimum. US $ Discounted investment. But we should not forget that the absorption technique is yet suffering from a scale factor: If the absorption chillers were as widespread as the usual air-conditioner. D. their price would be surely comparable.Engineering Equation Solver.C. mBar Heat flow rate.
Sayadi et al.Technical and economic analysis of a solar assisted air-conditioning system. Z. Subscripts c ev g ab US $ Condenser Evaporator Generator Absorber United States Dollar 338 ThETA3_077 .
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