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Design of a Solar driven Absorption chiller for School of Energy - CFD laboratory in PSG College of Technology

Anirudh Bhaskaran
School of Energy PSG College of Technology Coimbatore, India
AbstractAir conditioning is one of the primary systems which are responsible for greenhouse gas emissions, ozone depletion and for energy guzzling. The use of solar energy in buildings is an important contribution to the environment by the reduction of fossil fuel consumption and harmful emissions. This paper contributes to the design of solar absorption chiller for School of energy CFD laboratory in PSG college of Technology. Solar absorption cooling systems have the advantage of using absolutely harmless working fluids such as water or solutions of certain salts. The primary goal is to utilize zero emissions technologies to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions. The objective of this study is to design the Solar absorption chiller based on the cooling load requirement and to evaluate the techno-economics of the system to suggest the institution to make use of the potential of solar energy in air conditioning of buildings. Keywords- fossil fuels; Solar absorption cooling system; CO2 emissions; techno-economics; Air conditioning



Solar energy cooling systems for buildings have received much attention from the engineers in the past few years due to the world energy shortage. Especially, the solar driven absorption cooling system appears to be one of the promising alternative methods for conventional air conditioning system. The blackout situations faced by the Tamil Nadu electricity board due to power shortages can be partially overcome by the utilization of solar energy in air conditioning of buildings. The traditional refrigeration cycles are driven by electricity or heat, which strongly increases the consumption of electricity and fossil energy. The International Institute of Refrigeration in Paris (IIF/IIR) has estimated that approximately 15% of all the electricity produced in the whole world is employed for refrigeration and air-conditioning processes of various kinds, and the energy consumption for air-conditioning systems has recently been estimated to 45% of the whole households and commercial buildings[1,2]. Several thermally driven AC technologies are market available by today, which enable the use of solar thermal energy for this application. Based on current technologies, i.e., market available thermally driven cooling devices and market

available solar collectors, solar assisted air conditioning can lead to remarkable primary energy savings, if the systems are properly designed [3,4]. Till 2007 there were 81 installed large scale SCS, including systems which are currently not in operation. 73 installations are located in Europe, 7 in Asia, China in particular and 1 in America (Mexico). 60% of these installations are dedicated to office buildings, 10% to factories, 15% to laboratories and education centers, 6% to hotels and the left percentage to buildings with different final use (hospitals, canteen, sport center, etc.). The overall cooling capacity of the solar thermally driven chillers amounts to 9 MW; 31% of it is installed in Spain, 18% in Germany and 12% in Greece [5]. Wide-ranging studies of different aspects of absorption system, such as performance simulations and experimental test results, have been reported. Amongst the various types of continuous absorption SCS, LiBrH2Oand H2ONH3 are the major working pairs employed in these systems. It is reported that LiBrH2O has a higher coefficient of performance (COP) than that of the other working fluids [6]. However, for these applications to be economically interesting, in terms of payback period, it would be important to extend the system operation period as much as possible throughout the year. Solar thermal collectors can also be used for water or indoor space heating, thus making it possible to use an integrated system for building cooling and heating [7]. This study aims to evaluate the techno-economics of the cooling system for building applications and make it economically feasible to incorporate in the educational institutions. II. DESCRIPTION OF SOLAR ABSORPTION COOLING SYSTEM

Absorption is the process in which material transferred from one phase to another, (e.g. liquid) interpenetrates the second phase to form a solution. The principle of the single effect system with water-LiBr as working pair is described below [8]. A pump brings the rich solution towards the highpressure zone.

The mixture is heated in the generator. A contribution of heat (hot water from solar flat plate collector) allows the separation of the refrigerant (H2O) from the absorbent (LiBr solution). The vapors of refrigerant are sent towards the traditional cycle of condenser, expansion valve and evaporator. Cold is produced by the evaporation of refrigerant in the evaporator at low pressures and the cool air is circulated in to the telecommunication shelter. The poor solution turns over in the absorber by passing by a pressure-relief valve. The vapors of refrigerant are absorbed by the poor solution of absorber coming from the generator. The cycle can start again.


iii) Auxiliary power iv) water tank volume v) cooling tower type and power Economical evaluation of optimized solutions ROOM DESCRIPTION AND ITS CHARACTERISTICS


The room studied in this paper is the CFD laboratory which is a part of School of Energy in PSG college of Technology. The lab is currently cooled by a vapour compression airconditioning system which is to be replaced by SAC. The lab has a surface area of 36m2 with heat generating equipments such as LCD monitors, CPU, wall mounted racks for network connection, LCD projector, lightings, ceiling fan. The detailed specification and heat generating capacity of the equipments are given in table II. The knowledge of materials of the room is necessary to conduct the cooling load calculation and is given in table I. TABLE I. CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS OF THE ROOM
Type Building material Total Thickness (mm) Ceiling RCC (400mm) and tiles (4mm) on the exterior surface RCC (400mm) and tiles (4mm) on the interior surface Plaster (100mm),Brick (100mm), Plaster(100mm) Plaster (100mm),Brick (100mm), Plaster(100mm) Glass with aluminium frames Glass with aluminium frames 404 2.75 U value (W/m2K)

The methodology comprises of the following steps [9,10]: Collection of the required meteorological data of the examined area for the last 30 years. These data include the monthly solar irradiation, monthly dry bulb temperature, relative humidity. Study of the maximum, minimum and average cooling energy demand of the building, for determining the technical characteristics of the system. In order to maintain stable humidity and temperature conditions within the building, the cooling loads should be calculated. These depend on a great number of parameters, such as: i) size and geometrical characteristics of the building ii) orientation iii) construction materials iv) activity v) internal sources of heating vi) ventilation vii) infiltration viii) lighting ix) desired values of indoor temperature and humidity, during summer and winter x) meteorological conditions Selection of the solar cooling technology to be applied. The procedure adopted to select the optimum SAC technology depends on several building parameters. The selected technology is also chosen taken into account the type of the AC installation and the climatic conditions. Sizing study of the solar assisted air-conditioning Carryout studies on optimized solutions for the solar fraction by varying the technical characteristics that mainly concern the: i) solar collector surface ii) absorption chiller power










Wall 3 Wall 4

5 5

5.88 5.88

The examined lab as shown in Fig.1&2 is in the first floor of a block and it is enclosed by 2 seminar halls (air conditioned space) which is separated by the brick and plaster layers (wall 1 and 2) while the other 2 sides are enclosed by an internet lab with 5 computers and office room separated by aluminium framed glass layers (wall 3 and 4). The space right below the lab floor is occupied by another department (un-air conditioned space) .The space above the lab ceiling is occupied by IT department (un-air conditioned space). There is no direct solar heat gain in to the lab; therefore wall cooling load due to solar heat gain is neglected. The lab has an automatic door of 2.16m2 area which is responsible for the infiltration of outside air in to the lab. The lab will be occupied by a maximum of 15 people. The equipments operating time is from 8:30am to 5:00pm except the LCD projector. It is assumed that 20% of the cooling load

from lighting is directly absorbed in the return air stream without becoming room load. V.
TABLE Equipment

Figure 2. 3D model of CFD lab (top cut section view)



Avg. heat generating capacity 40W No. of Equipments 3 Operating hours 8:00am to 8:00pm 8:00am to 5:00pm 1 hr per day (avg)

Manufacturer with specifications 40W T5 lamp with electronic ballast 40W BENQ corporation, M series with 210W light bulb 17 TFT display HCL monitors Intel corp., Core 2 duo processor E7200 @2.53Ghz 24 port Giga switch with a cooling fan

The cooling loads are calculated on component basis using the RTS method. The following parts illustrate cooling load calculations for individual components of the CFD lab for a particular day of a month. A. Internal lighting cooling load using radiant time series The primary source of heat from lighting comes from light emitting elements, or lamps, although significant additional heat may be from associated appurtenances in the light fixtures that house such lamps [11]. Instantaneous rate of heat gain from electric lighting is given by [11], (1)

Flouroscent lamp Ceiling fan LCD projector

5W 250W

2 1

LCD monitors CPU



8:00am to 5:00pm 8:00am to 5:00pm



Wall mounted rack for network connection


8:00am to 8:00pm

Here the lighting use factor is taken as 1 and lighting special allowance factor as 1.1. To determine the total sensible cooling load, the total heat gain has to be split up in to convective and radiant cooling components. The convective and radiant percentages are taken to be 41% and 59% for fluorescent lamps recessed, vented to return air and supply air [11].Convective cooling load is given by [11], (2)

Radiant cooling load is given by [11], (3) Total lighting load is given by [11], (4)

As assumed earlier, 20% of the lighting load is absorbed by the return air stream, net lighting load is given by [11], (5)

Figure 1. 3D model of CFD lab (side cut section view)

B. Wall,ceiling and floor cooling load The conditioned space is adjacent to a space with different temperature; therefore heat transfer through the separating physical section must be considered and given by [11], (6)

C. Equipment cooling load The heat gain from the office and lab equipment can create a significant amount of heat gains, sometimes greater than all other gains combined. The individual equipment heat generation can calculated from the average heat generation capacity as specified by the manufacturer.


Figure 3. Schematic of Solar absorption chiller plant

D. Occupants load The sensible and latent heat gains comprise a large fraction of total load. Even for short term occupancy, the extra heat gain brought in by people may be significant [11], Sensible heat gain is given by [11],

Latent heat gain corresponding to change in humidity ratio is given by [11], (11) Total heat gain is given by, (12)

(7) VI. (8) SOLAR ABSORPTION COOLING MODEL The schematic model of the solar absorption cooling system is shown in Fig.3. The thermal energy required by the absorption chiller to handle the cooling load is given by [12],

Latent heat gain is given by [11],

E. Infiltration load Automatic doors are a major source of air leakage in buildings. They are normally installed where a large number of people use the doors. They stay open longer with each use than manual doors. Therefore, it is important to that designers take in to account the airflow through automatic doors when calculating the cooling loads in the space next to them [11]. To calculate the average airflow rate through an automatic door, the designer must take into account the area of the door, pressure difference across it, the discharge coefficient of the door when it is open and the fraction of time it is open. The infiltration rate through the automatic door is given by [11], (9) Here the airflow coefficient is taken as 25 L/(s.m2.Pa0.5) and the pressure difference across the door is taken as 4 Pa0.5[11]. Sensible heat gain corresponding to change in dry bulb temperature is given by [11],


Where, is the coefficient of performance of the absorption chiller which varies with demand is given in a fourth order polynomial for partial load efficiency of absorption chiller [12], (14) Where, is the ratio of the cooling load and the chiller nominal capacity and given by [12],


Energy balance applied at the chiller can be given by, (16)

The water leaving the chiller can be let through a flow control valve to operate the chiller at partial load. An Auxiliary heater is also provided at the inlet of the chiller in order to attain the desired temperature of the heating medium and also can be used in the absence of solar energy.

Auxiliary heater Cooling tower Storage tank

4000 Rs./kW 5000 Rs./kW 4500 Rs./m3

The characteristics of the required solar absorption air conditioning system are given in table IV.
TABLE IV. CHARACTERISTICS OF THE SOLAR ABSORPTION AIR CONDITIONING SYSTEM Equipment chiller Solar collector Storage tank heater Cooling tower Type Absorption, LiBr-H2O Flat plate Hot water Auxiliary cum pre heat open Specification 9.1kW 16m2 0.4m3 7.2kW 23kW

Figure 4. Monthly variations of dry bulb temperature

TABLE V. INVESTMENT, OPERATING COST AND PAYBACK PERIOD Equipment Absorption chiller Solar flat plate collector Storage tank Auxiliary heater Cooling tower Total installation cost Annual O&M cost Annual electricity cost Total cost* Total annual savings* Payback period *cost of electricity =4.715 Rs./kWh TABLE VI. ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS Benefits Saving units 23,100 kWh 12,173 kg LiBr-H2O Investment cost Rs. 3,20,000 2,24,000 1,800 28,800 1,15,000 5,000 5,000 10,000 7,09,600 1,08,917 6.51 years

VII. THEORETICAL RESULTS OF THE COOLING SYSTEM Based on the 30 years dry bulb temperature data as shown in Fig 4, the monthly cooling load requirement is calculated and shown in Fig. 5

Figure 5. Monthly variation of total cooling load requirement

Annual Electricity savings CO2 savings * Working fluid in SAC *CO2 emission factor = 0.527kg/kWh

The monthly cooling load helps us to find out the peak load requirement and accordingly we can select the required tonnage of solar absorption chiller. From Fig. 5 it is evident that the peak load of 9.093kW occurs in the month of April and the required tonnage of SAC is calculated for this cooling load and found to be 2.6 tons. VIII. ECONOMIC ANALYSIS The techno-economics of the cooling system is performed in this section. The financial data for all the equipments is given in table III.
TABLE III. FINANCIAL DATA Equipment Absorption chiller Compression system Solar collector cost 32000 Rs./kW 25000 Rs./kW 14000 Rs./m2

The total annual savings is calculated by assuming the conventional air-conditioning system runs for 300 days a year and having a tonnage capacity of 5.5tons with 80% cooling load. The electrical energy consumed by a solar absorption chiller to pump the solution and water is also taken in to consideration for calculating the annual savings. The payback period is calculated by, (17) From the environmental aspect, the annual electricity savings can lead to reduction in CO2 emission as shown in table VI.


CONCLUSION sa inf ch h Abbreviation CFD SCS SAC COP LCD CLF RCC Computational Fluid Dynamics Solar cooling system Solar absorption chiller Coefficient of performance Liquid crystal display Cooling load factor Reinforced cement concrete Special allowance Infiltration Chiller Hot

The design of solar absorption chiller for CFD laboratory has been carried out as per the ASHRAE standards and the cooling load was found to be 9.093kW for which a 3ton SAC can handle the cooling load. The required cooling load needs a thermal input from solar flat plate collector of area 16m2 which means a total of 6 flat plate collectors are needed to provide the desired amount of hot water to the chiller. The economic analysis carried out in section VIII shows that in order to implement this system, a total investment of 7 lakhs (approx.) has to be invested. The replacement of vapour compression system with the solar absorption system will provide a significant annual electrical energy savings of 23,100kWh and total annual savings of Rs.1,08,917. The payback period for this renewable cooling system is found to be 6.5 years (approx.). Apart from the energy cost savings, it also has some major environmental benefits like CO2 emission reduction of 12.17 tons per year. From overall perspective, the SAC system has many advantages compared to the conventional system and therefore the application of such systems should dominate the future market. If the SAC system is installed for the entire institution, the annual savings will be enormously high with additional environmental benefits. NOMENCLATURE
A a,b,c,d,e CA Ful Fsa fch Np N Q , tb ti Th1 Th2 W Greek symbols Subscripts c, r, l s ul Covective Radiant Latent Sensible Utilization Time, hours Area, m2 Coefficients of COP Air flow Coefficient, L/(s.m2.Pa0.5) Lighting utilization factor Lighting special allowance factor Chiller cooling load ratio Mass flow rate hot water, kg/s Payback period, years No. of person Air flow rate, m3/s Heat gain rate Avg. air temp. in adjacent space, o C Conditioned air temp, o C Hot water inlet temp to the chiller, o C Hot water outlet temp from the chiller, o C Lighting wattage, W

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