SOLAR POND

Introduction
A solar pond is a pool of saltwater which acts as a large-scale solar thermal energy collector with integral heat storage for supplying thermal energy. A solar pond can be used for various applications, such as process heating, desalination, refrigeration, drying and solar power generation.

The Principle
In a mass of water of low depth solar radiation falling on the surface will penetrate and be absorbed at the bottom, raising the water temperature. But the buoyancy will immediately cause this water to the surface and the heat will be rapidly dissipated to the surroundings. If the water in the lower region of the pond could be made heavier than that at the top then it could stay at the bottom and retain the absorbed heat and thereby yield greater temperature difference between the bottom and the surface layer of the water. Without the difference in concentration of the lower and upper layers of water the natural convection currents set into motion prevent a rise in temperature of more than a few degrees. In a solar pond the bottom layer of water is made more saline than the top layer at the surface. The solar pond is thus a unique energy trap with the added advantage of built-in long-term heat storage capacity. Its cost per square metre of solar collector area is considerably lower, almost one-fifth that of flat plate solar collectors where low grade heat (i.e. below 100deg. C) is collected. In addition, a kilogram of salt as ¶salt- water concentrate· can supply as much energy and three times more heat than the same amount of coal burnt in a combustion chamber, with hardly any loss of salt. Solar pond applications include process heat, drying, desalination, refrigeration and power generation. The cost benefit factor of solar ponds has led to a number of experimental projects around the world as well as in India. The experimental solar pond at El Paso, Texas, which supplied hot water for a food plant has recently also generated electricity using a 100kW power system and has also been used for a multi-stage flash evaporation unit to desalt water. The El

Another type of convecting pond is the deep. The bag has a blackened bottom. This convecting pond differs from shallow solar ponds only in that the water need not be pumped in and out of storage. local skills and materials are available. A dark-colored material usually butyl . Solar ponds are especially suitable for developing countries where enough land area. The salts commonly used are sodium chloride and magnesium chloride. Double-glazing covers deep saltless ponds. Types of solar pond There are two main categories of solar ponds: nonconvecting ponds. and convecting ponds. has foam insulation below. At night the hot water is pumped into a large heat storage tank to minimize heat loss. which reduce heat loss by preventing convection from occurring within the pond.NonConvecting solar pond There are two main types of nonconvecting ponds: salt gradient ponds and membrane ponds. which reduce heat loss by hindering evaporation with a cover over the surface of the pond 1.Paso pond has been very successful in demonstrating the three most important applications of the solar pond. Excessive heat loss when pumping the hot water to the storage tank has limited the development of shallow solar ponds. or when solar energy is not available. A salt gradient pond has three distinct layers of brine (a mixture of salt and water) of varying concentrations. Convecting solar pond A well-researched example of a convecting pond is the shallow solar pond. placing insulation on top of the glazing reduces heat loss. the most concentrated layer forms at the bottom. grid power generation and fresh water supply. and two types of glazing (sheets of plastic or glass) on top. saltless pond. The sun heats the water in the bag during the day. This pond consists of pure water enclosed in a large bag that allows convection but hinders evaporation. At night. 2. The least concentrated layer is at the surface. Because the density of the brine increases with salt concentration. industrial process heat.

rubber lines the pond. the concentration being densest at the bottom (20% to 30%) and . thus inhibiting convection.a pond between one to four metres deep as a working material for three main functions. Pumping the brine through an external heat exchanger or an evaporator removes the heat from this bottom layer. sodium chloride or sodium nitrate are dissolved in the water. Another method of heat removal is to extract heat with a heat transfer fluid as it is pumped through a heat exchanger placed on the bottom of the pond. The surface area of the pond affects the amount of solar energy it can collect. C) Storage of heat Transport of thermal energy out of the system. Description A solar pond is an artificially constructed water pond in which significant temperature rises are caused in the lower regions by preventing the occurrence of convection currents. As a result. The solar pond possesses a thermal storage capacity spanning the seasons. The solar pond. This dark surface at the bottom of the pond increases the absorption of solar radiation. the bottom layer stores the most.3°C. The bottom of the pond is generally lined with a durable plastic liner made from material such as black polythene and hypalon reinforced with nylon mesh. the water and the lining absorb the solar radiation. which is actually a large area solar collector is a simple technology that uses water. As sunlight enters the pond. The more specific terms salt-gradient solar pond or nonconvecting solar pond are also used. the bottom layer remains denser than the upper layers. Although all of the layers store some heat. Salts like magnesium chloride. Even when it becomes warm. y y y Collection of radiant energy and its conversion into heat (upto 95deg. the water near the bottom of the pond becomes warm up to 93. The dark lining enhances absorption of the sun's radiation and prevents the salt from contaminating the surrounding soil and groundwater.

and would eventually disappear due to diffusion and evaporation. C. a salt gradient solar pond consists of three zones. Mechanism When solar radiation strikes the pond. The less dense layer would then rise up and the layers would mix. Salt concentration and temperature increase with depth. the bottom layer would be less dense than the top layer as the heated water expands. hot water is removed continuously from the bottom. passed through a heat exchanger and then returned . the pond is filled with at least three successive layers of salt solution (10 to 20cms. Naturally this kind of stepped concentration cannot remain stable for long. a lower convective zone with the densest salt concentration. Almost as thick as the middle non-convective zone. most of it is absorbed by the surface at the bottom of the pond. concentrated brine is introduced at the bottom while the top is frequently ¶washed· with fresh water. The temperature of the dense salt layer therefore increases. one on top of the other. serving as the heat storage zone. The solar pond is filled in stages. y y an upper convective zone of clear fresh water that acts as solar collector/receiver and which is relatively the most shallow in depth and is generally close to ambient temperature. due to which the temperature of the lower layer may rise to as much as 95deg. salt concentration and temperatures are nearly constant in this zone. To obtain the difference in salt density through this stepped gradient. so that the top layer is fresh water or nearly so. In order to maintain the stability.gradually decreasing to almost zero Typically. If the pond contained no salt. thick). while the bottom layer contains the most salt. each less dense than the layer below. a gradient which serves as the non-convective zone which is much thicker and occupies more than half the depth of the pond. In order to extract the energy stored in the bottom layer. But the salt density difference keeps the ¶layers· of the solar pond separate. y at the top. The denser salt water at the bottom prevents the heat being transferred to the top layer of fresh water by natural convection.

known as the surface zone. However. The insulation zone has a higher salt concentration than the surface zone. which could be particularly harmful effect on agriculture in the region. Inexpensive land. Once the pond is dug. most ponds are man-made. Then the pond is filled with salty water.to the bottom. heat stored in hot water is piped to an evaporator. The pressure generated by the gas spins a turbine and electricity is produced by the generator. water and salt are essential for economic viability. Crucial to a solar pond is the bottom layer known as the storage zone. unless sealed properly. is composed of primarily freshwater due to the fact that salt typically settles at the bottom of water. Salt gradient ponds can actually have a short-term beneficial effect on the environment by the utilisation of unwanted salt. Liquid freon in the evaporator is heated and converted into gas. however. they require larger area of land compared to other renewable energy technologies. the pond must be lined with an impermeable lining. The top layer. . The middle layer is know as the insulation zone. To generate electricity. The storage zone is where all the hot water is held and this is what is converted into electricity. a disadvantage. a salt gradient pond can lead to salt pollution of land and ground water. As the collection efficiency of solar ponds is low. Freon gas is then cooled and recycled and used again. however. Solar ponds are environmentally benign since they produce energy without creating air or water pollution. or emitting gases that exacerbate the greenhouse effect. Once the sun hits the pond the water warms and divides into three layers. Working of solar pond :Solar ponds can be naturally occurring. The hot salt water produced is similar in chemical characteristics to a brine. preferable one that is insulating. The requirement of large tracts of land is. Research is now concentrated on reducing the costs and improving the performance of commercial solar ponds.

What allows a solar pond to be used as an energy source is that a pipe is placed at the bottom of the pond and draws the warm/ hot water out of the pond by a pump and is circulated through a piping system that utilizes the heat. . However. This system is a close system so is quite efficient in terms of water retention. This causes warm water to rise to the top of the water body and this heat is then released. the warm water stays at the bottom of a pond and gets hotter and hotter with the more sunlight it receives. in a solar pond this process does not happen. Therefore.Diagram of the different layers of a solar pond In a typical freshwater pond. The bottom layer of a solar pond can reach 178 degrees farenheit. Typically this is how a solar pond is used for heating purposes. or solar hot water heaters use the warm water. Once the water has run through the pipe it is deposited back into the pond in the storage zone so this water can be heated again. when the sun penetrates the water the layers that are heated up rise to the top of the pond and release the heat into the atmosphere. This is how a pond maintains a constant temperate. The oxygen in warm water is greater than cold water. It is similar to how radiant heat. Instead the water that is warmed is unable to rise to the top due to the salt concentration.

Here salt content increases with depth. Most people know that fluids such as water and air rise when heated. Water in the gradient cannot rise because the water above it has less salt content and is therefore lighter. The salinity gradient stops this process when large quantities of salt are dissolved in the hot bottom layer of the body of water. making it too dense to rise to the surface and cool. Some solar ponds rely on solar powered pumps to push the water through the piping.Solar pond as a eletyricity generator :Solar ponds are used to produce electricity. permitting sunlight to be trapped in the hot bottom layer from which useful heat may be withdrawn or stored for later use. The top layer is cold and has relatively little salt content. the hot water produced is used to spin a turbine which generates electricity. Separating these two layers is the important gradient zone. there are three main layers. The bottom layer is hot up to 100°C (212°F) and is very salty. the stable gradient zone suppresses convection and acts as a transparent insulator. Generally. In this case. A visual demonstration of how a solar pond is used to generate electricity . Thus. This is a renewable and environmentally friend system for electricity production. The water below it has a higher salt content and is heavier.

brackish ground water. as in soil desalination. or is becoming.Use of solar pond in desalination Desalination :Desalination refers to any of several processes that remove some amount of salt and other minerals from water. the total capacity of thermal desalination represented about 70% of the world total of seawater desalination capacity.Among the desalination technologies. including multi-stage flash distillation (MSF) and multi-effect distillation (MED) is the current leading desalination process. More generally. desalination will increasinglybe required to meet growing demands for fresh water.Thermal desalination is an energy-intensive process. desalination may also refer to the removal of salts and minerals. Sometimes the process produces table salt as a by-product. a substantial amount of research into solar energy desalination has been undertaken . limited. along with recycled water this is one of the only non-rainfall dependent water sources particularly relevant to countries like Australia which traditionally have relied on rainfall in dams to provide their drinking water supplies. However. Thermal desalination by salinitygradient solar ponds (SGSP) is one of the most promising solar desalination .  Solar pond as desalinator :As water shortage becomes one of the major problems worldwide. Desalination is used on many seagoing ships and submarines. and industrial wastewater). Large-scale desalination typically uses extremely large amounts of energy as well as specialized. During the past two decades. thermal desalination. Water is desalinated in order to convert salt water to fresh water so it is suitable for human consumption or irrigation. expensive infrastructure. In 1996. making it very costly compared to the use of fresh water from rivers or groundwater. Desalination technologies have been developed rapidly during the past several decades for desalting a variety of raw waters (seawater. Most of the modern interest in desalination is focused on developing cost-effective ways of providing fresh water for human use in regions where the availability of fresh water is.

If the salinity gradient is large enough.Compared with other solar desalination technologies. The heat storage allows solar ponds to power desalination during cloudy days and nighttime. as a basis to build the solar pond. The thermal conductivity of water is moderately low. desalination. concentrated salt solution that can be either convecting or temperature stratified. there is no convection in the gradientzone even when heat is absorbed in the lower zone because the hotter. The top region is called the surface zone. both for operational and economic aspects. namely reject brine. heat escapes upward from the lower zone very slowly. Because water is transparent to visible light but opaque to infrared radiation. A typical salinity-gradient solar pond has three regions. The lower zone is a homogeneous. saltier water at the bottom of the gradient remains denser than the colder. They are simple in design and low in cost. and electricity generation. and if the gradient zone has substantial thickness. The middle region is called the main gradient zone (MGZ). Twenty-four hour a day operation allows desalination units of half the size to produce water relative to other solar desalination options. solar ponds provide the mostconvenient and least expensive option for heat storage for daily and seasonal cycles.space heating. or upper convective zone (UCZ). Another advantage of desalination by solar ponds is that they can utilize what is often considered a waste product. or nonconvective zone (NCZ). The insulating properties of the gradient zone. the energy in the form of sunlight that reaches the lower zone and is absorbed there can escape only via conduction. less salty water above it. make the solar pond both a thermal collector and a . The surface zone is a homogeneous layer of low-salinity brine or fresh water. Above it the NCZ constitutes a thermal-insulating layer that contains a salinity gradient.  Salinity-gradient solar pond :SGSP combine solar energy collection with long-term storage. This is very important. This means that the water closer to the surface is always less concentrated than the water below it.technologies. Such ponds may be a reliable sourceof heat for a wide range of industrial and agricultural applications such as process heating. The lower region is called the storage zone. This is an important advantage when considering solar ponds for inland desalting for fresh water production or brine concentration for use in salinity control and environmental cleanup applications. if steady and constant water production is required. combined with the high heat capacity of water and large volume of water. or lower convective zone (LCZ).

which is defined as the ratio of heat removal rate from the LCZ to solar energy incident on the pond surface. is mainly affected by clarity of pond water. the lower the thermal efficiency because of more heat losses at higher pond temperatures. As an example. For instance. The thickness of the storage zone (LCZ) also has an effect on the thermal performance of the ponds. as established for this . and are easily built over large areas. DT. solar ponds are more efficient for medium. and the bottom temperature increased at a rate of about 1°C per day during start-up. The daily temperature fluctuation in a solar pond with a thicker storage zone is smaller than with a thinner storage zone. while the temperature fluctuation in the LCZ is 1²3°C between day and night. The pond is intended to be transparent and the lower levels absorb primarily visible and ultraviolet light.long-term storage device. between the lower zone and surface zone. It has been demonstrated that salinity-gradient solar ponds can be reliable heat sources at temperature levels of 50 to 90°C. the pond with a thicker storage zone will have a longer start-up time. inherent storage capacity. Solar ponds appear to be a type of solar system that can both collect and store year-around radiation for use primarily in the winter. The solar pond. Solar ponds are heated by absorption of short wave radiation throughout the vertical profile and on the pond liner. The average intensity in winter. when heat is needed. Ohio (41°N latitude) to be 3²4 times greater in June than in December. The greater the DT. Most of the infra-red light is absorbed at or near the surface of the pond and tends to be lost to the air by evaporation and conduction-convection. is much lower than in summer. the El Paso solar pond has a 1. Solar ponds have several advantages over other solar technologies. pond configuration especially the depth of the gradient zone and temperature difference. Solar pond as an alternative energy source for green housegases :Solar energy has a relatively low power density per unit area along with a high variable intensity. For this reason. Any system that can economically and efficiently store large quantities of heat might utilize the annual variability.2 m gradient zone and 1. typical daily solar radiation for each month at Wooster. The thermal efficiency of solar ponds. They have low cost per unit area of collector. However.to lowtemperature thermal applications than for electric power generation in which higher temperatures(usually above 85°C) are required for operating the generator efficiently.35 m storage zone.

has a high density convective zone of approximately 20% sodium chloride in the bottom half. In these settings the precise temperate of the heat is not of much importance. only 30% of the sun's heat penetrates deeper than two feet in water. they only receive direct sunlight for a limited number of hours daily. the brine gradient has similar heat conductivity characteristics as water with a conductivity of 2240 j-m/hr-m 2-°C at 38°C. For example. This makes the use of solar ponds in cities and residential areas quite limited because it is simply not cost effective to build these ponds. Also. Also. if solar ponds were used for home or office heat a major drawback is the fact that a thermostat can not be used to set the temperature. Therefore. Although solar ponds do produce heat. To make solar ponds cost effective they need to be built on cheap land. the productivity of a solar pond cannot be increased. for commercial use. which is relatively slow. since solar ponds lay on a horizontal axis. Heat can only be lost to the surface by conduction through the gradient. as a company expands and demands more heat and energy. a solar pond reaches a threshold and can no longer produce the quantity of heat or energy demanded. solar ponds are not the most efficient way of capturing the sun's heat and turning it into energy. Typically.study. However. the heat produced is not nearly as efficient as other forms of heat or electricity production. Once a solar pond is built. Barriers and limitations The primary barriers that limits the wide spread use of solar ponds is the fact that solar ponds require a large am mount of land. The top half of the pond is composed of a concentration gradient that goes from 20% at the center to nearly 0% at the surface. studies have proved that adding reflectors to solar ponds can dramatically increase . Heat produced by solar ponds is not easily controlled and therefore using the heat output is constrained to agricultural and industrial situations. and this number changes by season. Such gradients are non-convective and no circulation occurs. However.

This solar pond (pictured above) in Israel is capable of producing up to 150 kilowatts of electricity and is able to produce at a price comparable to traditional forms of electricity production. "It is found that the use of reflector having area only 5% of the total area of the pond can increase the radiation gain by more than 10%. In the United States solar ponds are not as widely used due to the relatively high cost of land.their productivity. placing solar ponds in such areas is not practical because industries and agricultural businesses are not usually located in the desert. the Israel government strategically built solar ponds to lessen their dependence on oil. the maximum theoretical efficiency of a solar concentrator system with molten salt is: 1-(273+20)/(273+80)=17%. To connect a solar pond in the desert to a residential electricity grid would cost far too much money. The only place feasible to place solar ponds are barren areas such as deserts. This is beneficial in the use of municipal energy supply. However. As a result. Studies are being funded by the United States government to research solar ponds for desalinization purposes. the cost of potable water from this process is extremely high and therefore not cost effective. the country has many solar ponds and utilizes them to produce electricity throughout the country. This can further be enhanced by increasing the area of the reflector. a power plant's heat engine delivering high-grade heat at 800 °C would have a maximum theoretical limit of 73% for converting heat into useful work (and thus would be forced to divest as little as 27% in waste heat to the cold temperature . Efficiency The energy obtained is in the form of low-grade heat of 70 to 80 °C compared to an assumed 20 °C ambient temperature. By comparison. Logistically. During the 1970s when oil prices were increasing with no sign of a decrease insight. According to the second law of thermodynamics (see Carnot-cycle)." Current uses of solar ponds Solar ponds have the potential to produce large am mounts of energy at relatively cheap prices. considering the economic feasibility.

being just a plastic-lined pond.reservoir at 20 °C). might potentially result in a large-scale system that is of lower overall levelised energy cost than a solar concentrating system. . The low efficiency of solar ponds is usually justified with the argument that the 'collector'.

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