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Second Semester Project: Radiant Heated Bridge and Thermosyphon Gavin Avery Applied Science Research Dr.

Dann Spring 2013

Abstract: The purpose of this project was to construct a thermosyphon (solar water heater) and a model bridge. These were then connected into a bridge heating system. The model bridge, named Realbridge, was built out of a concrete block with copper tubing curving through it, and the thermosyphon was constructed from a 2 by 4 box with an aluminum fin covered grid of copper tubing, which was spray painted black, sealed by plexiglass, and secured at a 45 angle. Water was frozen over Realbridge and tests were then run to determine first, if the system could successfully melt the ice on Realbridge and second, the effectiveness of the thermosyphon in heating water. Temperature and concrete (no pun intended) data were recorded and analyzed in evaluating the success of the system. The Thermosyphon also proved to heat water effectively to its boiling point. The primary result is that the system succeeded in melting the ice atop Realbridge. The secondary result is that the thermosyphon successfully boiled water.

History: The concept of radiant heating can be traced back to the Romans, who heated pipes under their baths to keep the baths warm around the year. But the Romans, as well as other civilizations that adopted radiant heating, faced the problem of collecting natural resources, such as wood, to use as fuel for their heating systems. It was not until 1767 that people began to recognize the potential heating power the sun held. Swiss naturalist Horace de Saussure was the first to create and test a hot box (seen in Figure 1). He speculated, It is a known fact, and a fact that has probably been known for a long time, that a room, a carriage, or any other place is hotter when the rays of the sun pass through glass.1 De Saussure found that the temperature inside the hot box reached well above the boiling temperature of water.

Figure 1: De Saussures hot box design.2 De Saussures design was the prototype for solar water heaters to come. Over a hundred years went by before Clarence Kemp, an American plumbing and heating manufacturer, created the first solar water heater by building a hot box similar to De Saussures and placing a black water tank inside of it (see Figure 2). He began to manufacture his solar water heater, named The Climax, and attempted to sell them across the East Coast.

John Perlin, Solar Thermal History, California Solar Center, (accessed May 14, 2013). 2 The History of Solar Water Heating, sinoyin, (accessed May 13, 2013).

Figure 2: an advertisement for Kemps Climax Solar Water Heater.3 Unfortunately, the East Coast experienced little sun and was rarely sunny during the winter months. This made the solar water heater impractical for use on the East Coast. Luckily he began to market them on the West Coast, especially in places like California, where it is sunny year around. In following years, other inventers continued to improve on the design so that the water could be stored inside the house, where it would stay warm over night. But in the 1920s, large amounts of natural gas and oil were discovered in California and heating water through combustion became less expensive. Although solar water heaters are not as popular in America today, they have been adopted in places around the world where the sun shines bright. In Israel, households heat over 90% of their water with the sun.4 Introduction: In recent years, radiant heating has been adapted for outdoor environments, such as driveways, where snow and ice can compile.5 The concept of a solar radiant heated bridge has been implemented before. In 1994, the Swiss Government funded SERSO, a project with the goal of recovering heat from the surface of the asphalt bridge, storing that heat, and utilizing the heat during the winter months to heat the bridge. As seen in figure 3, the SERSO system pumps cool water to the pavement in the summer months to be heated. This water is then sent to be stored in the Rock Store. During the winter months, the system The History of Solar Water Heating, sinoyin, (accessed May 13, 2013). 4 ibid 5 ibid

works in reverse, with hot water being pumped into the asphalt coils to heat up the road and cool water returning to be stored in the Rock Store.6

Figure 3: SERSO heated bridge design during the winter months.7 The SERSO system was proven to be so effective that it was recommended for use in airports, parking lots, and other asphalt projects. As seen in figure 4, SERSO also discovered a surplus of energy in the Rock Store that could be used to power other utilities, such as streetlights. During all four winters represented on the chart, the amount of energy reserved plus the amount of energy used to prevent ice buildup is substantially more than the amount of energy lost during both the summer and the winter, proving that the system is energy efficient.

SERSO System, Polydynamics Engineering Zuerich, (accessed February 11, 2013) 7 SERSO Pictures, Polydynamics Engineering Zuerich, (accessed February 11, 2013)

Figure 4: Energy data from the SERSO system.8 Since the SERSO project, other countries, universities, and companies have become interested in using solar energy to radiantly heat roads and bridges. Pave Guard Technology, Inc., with the funding of the Missouri Department of Transportation, has built two bridges near Kansas City that are heated during the winter by solar energy collected and stored during the summer.9 Due to the bridges short term of operation thus far, no conclusions have been made about the effectiveness of the radiant heated bridge program. The technology used in radiantly heated bridges is the future of winter road safety. From 2008 to 2010 at least 1000 people died in traffic accidents due to icy roads and bridges.10 Although icy roads do not immediately threaten the Bay Area, many residents drive to places such as Lake Tahoe, where icy roads can lead to a plunge off a cliff. By installing new, radiant heated bridges that run on solar energy, states can both save money and protect their citizens from the dangers of icy roads. Along with roads and bridges, this technology can be implemented at airports. Every year, airports are shut down due to winter storms. After these storms, airports often stay closed due to the ice and snow buildup on the runway, causing flights to be cancelled. If runways were radiantly heated, the snow and ice would not build up and airports reopen earlier. Radiant heating systems have great potential when it comes to transportation safety during the winter.

SERSO Pictures, Polydynamics Engineering Zuerich, (accessed February 11, 2013) 9 Pave Guard Solutions, Pave Guard Technologies, Inc., (accessed February 11, 2013) 10 Icy Road Fatality Statistics, Icy Road Safety, (accessed February 11, 2013)

Theory: All three methods of heat transfer are present in the thermosyphon system. First, radiant heat transfer occurs inside the insulated thermosyphon black box. The box traps and absorbs the thermal radiation, a type of electromagnetic wave, emitted by the sun. The box must be black because black can absorb all wavelengths of radiation. Aluminum sheets are also added to the box because the amount of heat absorbed is proportional to the surface area of the conductor, as seen in Equation 1. The electromagnetic radiation will then heat up the air and the aluminum inside of the black box. As heat is added to the air inside the box, the airs molecular kinetic energy is increased.11 This creates a temperature gradient inside the box going from the hot air and aluminum to the cold water through the conductive copper pipes. Equation 1: q = eAT4; where q = the heat transfer rate, e = the emissivity of a substance, = Stefan-Boltzmann constant, A = surface area, and T = absolute temperature12 The water in the copper pipes is then heated through conduction, as seen in Figure 5. The air then transfers its thermal energy to the water through microscopic diffusion and molecular collisions with the copper pipes. The rate at which this occurs is known as the heat transfer rate, which can be found from Equation 1. Equation 2: q = -kA(T/L); where q = the heat transfer rate, k = a materials thermal conductivity, A = the cross sectional surface area, T = the change in temperature over the gradient, and L = the thickness (length) of the conductor13

Figure 5: Diagram of one dimensional heat flow through a conductor14

Heat Transfer, Grade 9 to Engineering, (accessed March 22, 2013) 12 ibid 13 ibid 14 Heat Transfer, Grade 9 to Engineering, (accessed March 22, 2013)

Copper makes for a good conductor because of its specific heat capacity of .385 J/(g*K), which is low among metals. As shown in Equation 2, a lower heat capacity means less heat is needed to change the temperature of a substance. The less heat needed to change the temperature of a substance is more efficient because it requires less energy. The copper pipes also act as a good conductor because the thickness of the tubings walls is only .035 inches. The less length of the conductor, the higher the heat transfer rate, as shown in Equation 2. Water is not a good conductor because it has a high specific heat capacity of 4.186 J/(g*K). Equation 2: C = Q / T; where C = heat capacity, Q = change in heat, and T = change in temperature15 When the heat is transferred to the water inside the copper pipes, the water molecules begin to move faster due to the increase in kinetic energy. When the water molecules begin to move at faster speeds, they bump into each other more frequently and bounce farther away from each other. The increase in speed of the molecules increases the temperature of the water, and the increase of space between the fast moving water molecules results in a decrease in the density of the water.

Figure 6: Graph of water density vs. water temperature.16

ibid Density vs. Temperature, Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, (accessed March 22, 2013)
15 16

When the density of the water is decreased, it rises through the system, creating convection currents that bring hot water to the top of the system and return cool water to the bottom. The convection currents transfer heat through diffusion and macroscopic movement of fluid. The reason why less dense water floats to the surface is because it has less weight (which means less mass because gravity is constant), as shown on Figure 7. According to Archimedes Principle, the buoyancy force on the hot water is equal to the weight of the regular water it displaced.17 The resulting net force is slightly upward, which would push the hot water to the top of the system. At the top of the system, the pipes pass through a concrete block at a quarter inch below the concretes surface. On the surface of the concrete is a sheet of ice. This is where conductive heat transfer reoccurs, but with the temperature gradient switched. Now the temperature gradient goes from the hot water in the pipes to the cool concrete, and the ice above the concrete. As the heat in the water is transferred, the temperature of the water will decrease. With the heat transferring out of the water, the kinetic energy of the water molecules decreases, which causes the density of the water to increase. This water will then sink through the system because it is denser. The water at the bottom will be reheated by the thermosyphon and the process begins a new.

Figure 7: Chart of density and weight of water at different temperatures.18

Why do wood, cork, and ice always float?, UCSB Science Line, (accessed March 22, 2013) 18 Howard Periman, Water Density, U.S. Geological Survey Water Science School, (accessed March 22, 2013)

The three methods of heat transfer that where used in the thermosyphon system are shown in Figure 8:

Figure 8: The three forms of heat transfer.19 Results: Protobridge: Protobridge was made in the form of a concrete block with copper pipes in it (see Appendix E for CAD drawing). A thin layer of water was then frozen over the concrete block and hot water was sent through pipes at different distances from the surface. There were several setbacks during the testing of the prototype in the form of leaks in the outer wood structure. Despite the setbacks, the prototype was successfully built and the tests have proven the radiant heating system to work, as seen in Figure 9.

Figure 9: Prototype test results on pipes below (right) and below (left) surface of concrete. Heat Transfer, Grade 9 to Engineering, (accessed March 22, 2013)

Along with the concrete (no pun intended) results in Figure 9, the data recorded during a test on the tube proved that the system worked well. As seen in Figure 10, when hot water was run through the pipe, the surface temperature of the concrete began to increase. As the water continues to run, the surface temperature continued to rise until it was high enough to melt the ice. Unfortunately, the data was not very accurate due to human error and the complexity of the infrared temperature sensor. This test will be redone on the model bridge once it is completed. A regular different type of temperature sensor will also be used to record data. One problem with having the tubing so close to the surface is it would not be as applicable to real bridges because the weight of cars driving over the bridge would compress the concrete near the surface, thus crushing the pipes.

Figure 10: Graph of surface temperature of concrete vs. time for piping of an inch below concrete. Thermosyphon: A thermosyphon was built in the form of a 2 by 4 by 8 box. Inside of the box is a grid of copper tubing connected to a sheet of wood and topped with aluminum fins. Beneath this was placed a 1 layer of insulation. All of these pieces were spray painted black in order to increase the amount of heat absorbed by the box. These were both secured into the box with glue and a 1/8 thick piece of plexiglass was screwed on as the top of the box. The box was then tilted to a 45 angle and supports were added to the box (See CAD diagram in Appendix E).

Figure 11: Picture of thermosyphon. Once the thermosyphon was completed, testing began to determine its effectiveness at heating the water. The thermosyphon was placed in the sun in order to allow UV radiation from the sun to enter the box and be absorbed. It is imperative that the thermosyphon be completely facing the sun in order for the maximum UV exposure. After 20 minutes in the sun, the air in the thermosyphon reached a temperature of 70C. The temperature rose at an average rate of .024676C/S. At 36 minutes the temperature of the air inside the thermosyphon reached 96.1C. Unfortunately, there was no way to measure the temperature of the water inside the tubing of the thermosyphon because the tubing system was closed to ensure no water could leak out. Despite this, when the bridge was detached from the thermosyphon, boiling water and steam spurted out, which suggests that the water temperature inside the thermosyphon exceeded the boiling point of water, which is 100C. One possible explanation for the discrepancy between the temperature of the water and the temperature of the air in the thermosyphon is the water was in a completely closed system while the air in the box could leak out because the plexiglass began to bend and bow under the extreme temperature. Realbridge: The purpose of Realbridge is to mimic a section of a real bridge (if the name didnt give it away). Realbridge was made in the form of a cement block with copper tubing in it. The copper tubing was laid is a winding formation below the surface of the cement (see Figure 12 for pictures, see Appendix E for CAD diagram). Thermistors were placed at each curve and in a corner to measure the change in resistance, which is used to calculate the 10

change in temperature (see Equation 4). The sides of the block and any holes in the block were sealed to ensure water does not leak from the box while freezing. Once Realbridge was completed, water was poured on the surface of the cement and Realbridge was put in the freezer in create the desired frozen conditions.

Figure 12: Images of Realbridge with and without cement. Equation 4: T = T0 / ( + T0 Ln[R/R0]); where T = temperature, = thermistor material constant; T0 = starting temperature, R = resistance, R0 = starting resistance20 Sample Calculation: T = T0 / ( + T0 Ln[R/R0]); resistance is 33630 at 273K, = 4038K

T = 4038K 273K / (4038K + 273K Ln[119000 / 33630]) T = 251.51K = -21.51C

Negative Temperature Coefficient Thermistors for Temperature Measurement, Portland State Aerospace Society, (accessed May 13, 2013).


System: The thermosyphon was connected to Realbridge by copper tubing covered with tubing insulation wrap in order to prevent heat lose between the two components. The system is almost completely filled with water and closed to ensure no water leaks out. A box was also placed over Realbridge to prevent the sun from directly melting the ice. See Figure 13 for a complete diagram of the system.

Figure 13: diagram of completed system The system successfully melted the ice on the bridge (see Appendix C for pictures of ice melting on bridge). As the temperature in the thermosyphon rose, the temperature of the water in the thermosyphon increased and the density of the water decreased. This allowed for the hot water to rise through the system into Realbridge, where it released its heat and heated up the concrete, which in turn heated up and began to melt the ice on the surface. For a more detailed explanation of this process, please refer to the theory section. Some of the water in the system boiled and converted to steam. Steam is more desirable for the system because it rises more quickly and stores more energy than simply hot water. As seen in Figure 14, the temperature of the cement increased over time. Another important thing to notice is the thermistors near the input of Realbridge heated up more quickly than the thermistors near the output of Realbridge. This is proven by the discrepancy between the slopes of the fitted lines (in C/S) for thermistor 1 and thermistor 7. For the data chart of all thermistors, please refer to Appendix D.


Figure 14: Graph of temperatures of thermistors at set time intervals. Temperatures derived from Equation 4). There were several problems with the system; the most significant is that without flow of the water, the water in Realbridge began to freeze. Freezing the entire bridge at very low temperatures for an extended period created this problem. A possible fix to this problem is installing a water pump into the system. Although it would require electricity, it would prevent the water from freezing by keeping it moving. Another possible source of error was the air temperature. In a situation where this device would be used, the air temperature would be below freezing level. The system was tested on a warm day, which means the warm air temperature may have contributed to the melting of the ice. The cement surface of Realbridge is not flat, which means the ice sheet was not a consistent depth. The ice over the higher parts of the bridge is thinner and melts more easily. Despite these sources of error, the system proved successful in melting the ice on Realbridge.

Acknowledgements: There are many people who helped me on this project in one-way or another. First is Dr. Dann, who encouraged me during the project, and in return we found out what fins were. Mr. Del Carlo was a huge help with all the building that went into my project. He helped me with designing the support for the thermosyphon. I would like to thank Kien for finding the connecters I needed for the thermosyphon. And everyone else who helps me knows who they are and I thank them. Appendices:


Appendix A: Parts list. Check in back of binder for receipts. Part Description Needed For Cost 3/8 copper tubing X 50 ft Radiant heating system $50 Quickrete Model bridge $10 Aluminum Sheets thermosyphon $20 3/8 copper piping thermosyphon provided Flat black paint thermosyphon $10 Plastic couplings X 16 thermosyphon $40 Thermistors X 8 bridge provided plexiglass thermosyphon $28 Spray paint thermosyphon $6 Heat Sink adhesive X 4 thermosyphon $20 Tubing insulation wrap thermosyphon $5

Where Ill Buy It Ace Hardware Ace Hardware Workshop ACA Hardware Plumbing store ASR lab Home Depot Ace Hardware Amazon Ace Hardware

Appendix B: Chart of Thermistor Temperatures Sensor # Frozen 15 min 20 min 1 -18.3C -2.89C -1.85C 2 -20.9C -5.11C -3.87C 3 -23.5C -6.88C -6.22C 4 -23.3C -6.37C -5.66C 5 -22.7C -4.95C -4.50C 6 -21.5C -3.91C -3.11C 7 -21.9C -4.63C -4.17C 8 -19.9C -3.87C -3.21C Notes Water No ice melting Ice beginning completely to melt on frozen, right out edges of freezer

40 min .575C -1.25C -3.78C -3.48C -2.75C -1.45C -2.85C -1.50C Ice melting on edges

55 min 2.44C -.256C -2.85C -2.47C -1.80C -.840C -2.19C -.943C Ice melting everywhere, cement emerging


Appendix C: Image of ice melting on the bridge.


Appendix D: Thermistor arrangement and Spec Sheet


Appendix E: CAD drawings


Appendix F: Febuary & January papers