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Heat extraction from salinity-gradient solar ponds using heat pipe

heat exchangers
Sura Tundee
a,
*
, Pradit Terdtoon
a
, Phrut Sakulchangsatjatai
a
, Randeep Singh
b,
**
,
Aliakbar Akbarzadeh
b
a
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand
b
Energy Conservation and Renewable Energy Group, School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, RMIT University,
Bundoora East Campus, Bundoora, Victoria 3083, Australia
Received 1 September 2009; received in revised form 25 March 2010; accepted 13 April 2010
Available online 17 July 2010
Communicated by: Associate editor Yogi Goswami
Abstract
This paper presents the results of experimental and theoretical analysis on the heat extraction process from solar pond by using the
heat pipe heat exchanger. In order to conduct research work, a small scale experimental solar pond with an area of 7.0 m
2
and a depth of
1.5 m was built at Khon Kaen in North-Eastern Thailand (16°27
0
N102°E). Heat was successfully extracted from the lower convective
zone (LCZ) of the solar pond by using a heat pipe heat exchanger made from 60 copper tubes with 21 mm inside diameter and
22 mm outside diameter. The length of the evaporator and condenser section was 800 mm and 200 mm respectively. R134a was used
as the heat transfer fluid in the experiment. The theoretical model was formulated for the solar pond heat extraction on the basis of
the energy conservation equations and by using the solar radiation data for the above location. Numerical methods were used to solve
the modeling equations. In the analysis, the performance of heat exchanger is investigated by varying the velocity of inlet air used to
extract heat from the condenser end of the heat pipe heat exchanger (HPHE). Air velocity was found to have a significant influence
on the effectiveness of heat pipe heat exchanger. In the present investigation, there was an increase in effectiveness by 43% as the air veloc-
ity was decreased from 5 m/s to 1 m/s. The results obtained from the theoretical model showed good agreement with the experimental
data.
Ó 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Solar pond; Thermosyphon; Heat pipe heat exchanger; Heat recovery; Renewable energy
1. Introduction
Solar pondis a simple andlowcost thermal energy storage
systemwhich collects incident solar radiation and stores it in
the form of sensible heat of saline water for a relative long
period of time (seasonal storage). The first investigation on
the solar pond was conducted by Kalecsinsky (1902). In
the study, the solar-heated natural salt water lake known
as Lake Madoc located at 42°44
0
N, 28°45
0
E in Transylvania
was considered. This lake showed temperatures as high as
70 °C at a depth of 1.32 m in the summer season. The mini-
mal temperature was 26 °C during early spring. Following
this study, the idea of solar energy collection was further
developed by using artificially created salinity-gradient solar
ponds.
A typical salinity-gradient solar pond generally consists
of three regions namely the upper convective zone (UCZ),
the middle non-convective zone (NCZ), and the lower con-
vective zone (LCZ) as shown in Fig. 1. The upper convec-
tive zone is the topmost layer of the solar pond which is
relatively thin and consists almost entirely of fresh water
0038-092X/$ - see front matter Ó 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.solener.2010.04.010
*
Corresponding author. Tel.: +66 43338869; fax: +66 43338870.
**
Corresponding author. Tel.: +61 399256024; fax: +61 399256108.
E-mail addresses: suratundee2000@yahoo.com (S. Tundee), randeep.
singh@rmit.edu.au (R. Singh).
www.elsevier.com/locate/solener
Available online at www.sciencedirect.com
Solar Energy 84 (2010) 1706–1716
or water with low salinity. The non-convective zone is the
portion just below the upper convective zone that shows
an increasing salt concentration with respect to the pond
depth. This layer acts as heat insulation and thus minimizes
heat losses from the bottom high saline layer. The lower
convective zone has the highest percentage of salinity with-
out any concentration gradient unlike NCZ. For suffi-
ciently high concentration gradient in NCZ, the
convective current will be suppressed in this region which
helps to store the absorbed thermal energy in the bottom
portion (LCZ) of the pond. Fig. 1 also presents a character-
istic salinity and temperature profiles in the salinity-gradi-
ent solar pond. When solar radiation is incident on the
solar pond, a part of the radiation is reflected back from
Nomenclature
A area (m
2
)
C heat capacity (J/kg)
C
p
specific heat capacity (J/kg K)
E rate of solar irradiance absorption per unit vol-
ume of water (W/m
3
)
h convection heat transfer coefficient (W/m
2
K)
H average daily solar irradiance (MJ/m
2
day)
I
o
solar intensity just penetrating the surface of the
pond (W/m
2
)
I
x
solar intensity available at depth x (W/m
2
)
j 1–4 (different ranges of wavelength as per Ta-
ble 1)
k thermal conductivity (W/m K)
L latent heat of evaporation of water (J/kg)
l thickness of the solar pond zone (m)
LCZ lower convective zone
m

a
air mass flow rate (kg/s)
NCZ non-convective zone
NTU number of heat transfer units for heat pipe heat
exchanger
n number of thermosyphons
P perimeter (m)
P
atm
atmosphere pressure (Pa)
P
v
saturation vapour pressure corresponding to
surface water temperature (Pa)
P
1
partial pressure of water vapour in air (Pa)
q rate of heat loss per unit area (W/m
2
)
q
ext
heat extracted from the lower convective zone of
solar pond by HPHE (W)
Q
tot
total heat transferred by heat pipe heat exchan-
ger (W)
Q
max
maximum possible heat that can be transferred
by heat exchanger (W)
R
h
relative humidity (%)
S salt concentration (kg/m
3
)
T temperature (K)
t time (s)
U overall heat transfer coefficient (W/m
2
K)
UCZ upper convective zone
V wind speed (m/s)
x distance from the surface of the solar pond (m)
Z
tot
total thermal resistance of the HPHE (K/W)
Dt time difference (s)
DT temperature difference (K)
Dx thickness of horizontal layers (m)
Greek letters
e emissivity
h angles of refraction (rad)
g
j
fraction of solar radiation having absorption
coefficient l
j
q density (kg/m
3
)
r Stefan–Boltzmann’s constant (=5.67 Â 10
À8
W/
m
2
K
4
)
l
j
absorption coefficient for jth portion of solar
spectrum (m
À1
)
n effectiveness of heat exchanger (%)
Subscripts
a air
ai air inlet
ao air outlet
amb ambient
c cold
conv convection
e evaporation
eff effective
f final/last layer of the NCZ
g ground
h hot
hh hydrostatic height
i number of layer
l lower convective zone
min minimum
max maximum
n non-convective zone
r radiation
s solar pond
si sink
sky sky conditions
sl sides of lower convective zone
sn sides of non-convective zone
so source
su sides of upper convective zone
tot total
t 1, 2, 3, . . . (index for time interval Dt)
u upper convective zone
w water
S. Tundee et al. / Solar Energy 84 (2010) 1706–1716 1707
the top surface while most of the incident sunlight is trans-
mitted inside through the top surface of the UCZ. The frac-
tion of the transmitted radiation is first rapidly absorbed in
the surface layer. However, this absorbed heat is lost to the
atmosphere by convection and radiation heat transfer. The
remaining radiation is then subsequently absorbed in the
middle NCZ and bottom LCZ before the rest of the radia-
tion reaches the bottom of the pond. In the LCZ, the
absorbed solar energy is converted to heat and stored as
sensible heat in high concentration brine. Since there are
no heat losses by convection from the bottom layer, the
temperature of this layer can rise substantially. The tem-
perature difference between the top and the bottom of the
solar ponds can be as high as 50–60 °C. Thermal energy
stored in the solar pond can be utilized for heating of build-
ings (hydrophonic), power production and desalination
purposes (Akbarzadeh et al., 2005).
Heat absorbed in the solar pond can be extracted by dif-
ferent means for utilization in various thermal applications.
In this area, investigation on the heat extraction systems
has been conducted by number of researchers. Jaefarzadeh
(2000) studied the heat extraction from the solar pond with
an area of 4 m
2
and a depth of 1.1 m by using in-pond heat
exchangers with water as the working fluid. In this investi-
gation, a system of internal and external heat exchangers
was used. The internal heat exchanger was installed in
the LCZ that helps to extract heat from the bottom of
the pond by using circulating fresh water and transfer it
to the water to air heat exchanger placed externally to
the pond. It was concluded that the solar pond can deliver
heat either continuously with low efficiency or intermit-
tently with relatively high thermal efficiency.
Andrew and Akbarzadeh (2005) propose an alternative
method to enhance the thermal efficiency of the solar pond
by extracting heat from the non-convecting gradient layer
in addition to the lower convective zone. A theoretical
analysis of combined NCZ and LCZ heat extraction sug-
gested that this method has the potential to increase the
overall energy efficiency of the pond by up to 50% as com-
pared to the conventional method of heat extraction from
LCZ only. In the analysis, heat exchanger was assumed to
be single phase type with water as the working fluid.
From the literature survey, it is evident that the heat
extraction from the solar ponds is generally performed by
means of single-phase heat transfer using sensible heat gain
by the liquid working fluid which is mostly water. The cur-
rent method of heat extraction suffers from two main lim-
itations. Firstly, the active circulation of the working fluid
inside the in-pond heat exchanger requires pumping power
which is not very sustainable in the remote area applica-
tions where solar ponds are most viable. Secondly, single-
phase heat exchangers are bulky in size and are required
to handle large mass flow rates of heat transfer fluid in
order to transfer kilowatt range heat provided by the solar
ponds. In this regard, two phase heat transfer systems (Lee
et al., 2006; Huang et al., 2001; Hussein, 2002; Shiraishi
et al., 1981; Lee and Bedrossian, 1978; Chyng et al.,
2003; Esen, 2004) based on the latent heat of evaporation
of the liquid working fluid can be considered as an advan-
tage due to its passive mode of operation and relatively
high heat transfer capacity with reasonable system size. Till
now, such a heat exchanger is not utilized for the solar
pond heat extraction purposes. Therefore, the current
research investigates the potential and viability of heat
extraction from the lower convective zone of the solar pond
by using system of two-phase gravity-assisted thermosy-
phons as the heat exchanger. In the study, the theoretical
model of solar pond heat extraction by using thermosy-
phons is discussed and elaborated. Also, the outcomes of
the thermal simulation are compared to the experimental
data obtained from the artificially constructed salinity-gra-
dient solar pond.
2. Experimental setup
In the present experimental work, solar pond with an
area of 7 m
2
and a depth of 1.5 m was built at Rajamangala
University of Technology in north east of Thailand
(16°27
0
N102°E). The built solar pond was used to charac-
terize the daily temperature variations and possible heat
extraction rate from the salinity-gradient solar ponds.
Fig. 2 illustrates various zones in the solar pond and their
thicknesses. In this case, the pond was built above ground
with concrete walls 20 cm thick. The temperature measure-
ments were taken at different locations along the inner con-
crete wall of the pond, as indicated in the Fig. 2, by using
K-type thermocouples with an accuracy of ±0.5 °C. These
thermocouples were equally spaced at 0.05 m interval with
the starting point at 0.05 m and end point at 1.45 m from
the bottom surface of the pond. The temperature distribu-
tions at these regions were recorded at 5 min time interval
by using the data acquisition system connected to these
thermocouples. For monitoring and processing the output
data, the data acquisition unit was connected to a com-
puter system. The solar radiation intensity (in W/m
2
) inci-
dent on the horizontal surface was measured at an interval
of 10 min by using a 105HP type pyranometer with an
uncertainty of ±5% of the output reading. In order to
record the density profile for the solar pond, samples of
the saline water was extracted from different depths of
the pond using simple gravity assisted siphoning technique.
Fig. 1. Salinity gradient solar pond.
1708 S. Tundee et al. / Solar Energy 84 (2010) 1706–1716
Density was measured using DMA 35N Density meter
from Anton Paar which has an accuracy of ±1 kg/m
3
.
The schematic of the heat extraction system, as shown in
Fig. 2, is composed of heat pipe heat exchanger (HPHE),
blower and air flow duct. A system of internal heat exchan-
ger based on the two phase thermosyphons (gravity
assisted heat pipes) was designed for removing heat from
the LCZ of the solar pond. The heat pipe heat exchanger
(HPHE) consisted of 60 thermosyphons which were made
from copper tube with an internal diameter of 21 mm
and external diameter of 22 mm. Each tube has evaporator
and condenser length of 80 cm and 20 cm respectively.
R134a was used as the heat transfer fluid inside the ther-
mosyphon. The HPHE was inclined at 60° to the vertical
that provide a favourable tilt for superior thermal perfor-
mance of the thermosyphon as well as for integrating the
heat exchanger inside the lower convective zone. Tilting
the HPHE at such an angle helps to provide heat transfer
access at the evaporator and condenser sections and also
installation of the unit in the heat storage section of the
pond. It should be noted that the performance of the ther-
mosyphon is very much dependent on the tilt angle. For
proper return of the condensate to the evaporation section,
the tilt angle should be higher (more than 45°). On the
other hand, 90° tilt increases the chances of entrainment
and blockage of condensation area with liquid film. Keep-
ing all these factors into account, 60° tilt was considered
optimum for the present experimental setup. In order to
extract heat transferred by the HPHE from the LCZ, a var-
iable speed blower was used for circulation the ambient air
through the HPHE condenser. The air temperature at the
inlet and outlet of the HPHE condenser and volume flow
rate were measured to determine the heat extraction rate.
A vane type anemometer with ±0.3 m/s accuracy was used
to measure the mean velocity of air passing through the
blower.
On the basis of the error analysis, it was observed that
the uncertainties associated with the experimental results
were higher at the lower flow velocities of the air through
the blower due to the lower quantities of extracted heat.
For the minimum experimental air velocity of 1 m/s, the
maximum uncertainty for the heat extracted from the solar
pond and effectiveness of the heat pipe heat exchanger was
±5.1% and ±7.2% respectively.
3. Theoretical analysis of solar pond heat extraction
3.1. Solar pond analysis
A one-dimensional mathematical model based on the
energy conservation for three zones of the pond namely
UCZ, NCZ and LCZ as shown in Fig. 3 was used to pre-
dict the thermal characteristics of the experimental solar
pond. The model outcomes were validated by using test
data obtained from the constructed solar pond. In the
model, it was assumed that the upper convective zone
and lower convective zone are fully mixed. The tempera-
ture variations inside the solar pond depend on the solar
radiation intensity incident on the horizontal surface, the
climatic conditions of the place, the structure and geometry
of the pond and the rate of heat extraction.
Using Cartesian system of coordinates, x is measured as
positive downward with the origin (x = 0) at the surface of
the pond. The general one-dimensional transient equation
UCZ
NCZ
LCZ
Concrete
slab
Computer
System
Data Logger
Signal from
thermocouples
30 cm
60 cm
70 cm
20 cm
Thermocouples
lined along the depth
of the solar pond
Blower
HPHE
Sun
TLCZ
Tai
Tao
Cold Air Warm Air
Fig. 2. Experimental setup showing different zones of solar pond their dimensions, pond heat extraction system and associated data acquisition facilities.
S. Tundee et al. / Solar Energy 84 (2010) 1706–1716 1709
for temperature T in the conducting (non-convecting) zone
of the pond can be given as (Rubin et al., 1984):
qC
p
@T
@t
¼
@
@x
k
@T
@x
_ _
þ Eðx; tÞ ð1Þ
The energy source term, E(x, t), appearing in Eq. (1)
represents the rate of solar energy absorption by the fluid
per unit volume, and can be expressed as follows:
E ¼ À
@I
x
@x
ð2Þ
The thermophysical properties of the saline water in
terms of temperature (T) in Kelvin and salt concentration
(S) in kg/m
3
are given by (Wang and Akbarzadeh, 1982)
as below:
k
w
¼ 0:5553 À 0:0000813S þ 0:0008ðT À 20Þ ð3Þ
q
w
¼ 998 þ0:65S À 0:4ðT À 20Þ ð4Þ
C
pw
¼ 4180 þ 4:396S þ 0:0048S
2
ð5Þ
3.1.1. Absorption of solar radiation in solar pond
Solar radiation is one of the most important parameters
for estimating the temperature in the solar pond. For the
solar pond, the thermal performance is largely dependent
on the nature of light absorption in the body of water in
the solar pond. The solar irradiance that penetrates the
pond surface decays exponentially with the depth (x) as
the energy is absorbed by fluid layers. The rate of decay
is a function of the wavelength of the radiation and can
be expressed for the whole spectrum of wavelength by ser-
ies of exponential functions (Rubin et al., 1984) as follows:
I
x
I
o
¼

4
j¼1
g
j
exp
Àl
j
x
cos h
_ _
ð6Þ
Table 1 gives the values for g and l for different range of
wavelength.
A simplified equation for light absorption in water is
given by (Wang and Akbarzadeh, 1982) as:
I
x
I
o
¼ 0:36 À 0:08 ln x for 0:01 m < x < 10 m ð7Þ
Fig. 4 presents the graph for the extent of the solar
energy absorption inside the pond with the depth by using
Eqs. (6) and (7). As evident from the trends, the predictions
UCZ
NCZ
LCZ
q
e
q
conv q
r
I
o
q
g
q
ext
q
sl
q
sn
q
su
l
l
l
n
l
u
T
u
f
1
i-1
i
i+1
Δx
i-1
Δx
i
Δx
i+1
T
l
x
i-1/2
x
i+1/2
x
i
u
l
I
n u
l l
I
+
Fig. 3. Mathematical model of the solar pond showing details of the three zones and the sub-layers for numerical analysis.
Table 1
Values for g and l for different range of wavelength as used in Eq. (6).
j Wavelength (lm) g l
1 0.2–0.6 0.237 0.032
2 0.6–0.75 0.193 0.45
3 0.75–0.9 0.167 3
4 0.9–1.2 0.179 35
1710 S. Tundee et al. / Solar Energy 84 (2010) 1706–1716
made by the two correlations is quite close. It is noted that
the absorption of the incident radiation shows an initial
sharp and then slow trend with respect to the depth of
the pond. At a depth of 1 m, only 36% of the radiation
entering the pond is available while at a depth of 2 m this
value is reduced to 30%. Solar radiation intensity has a
direct effect on the temperature of the pond. In this study,
the meteorological data used was recorded at Khon Kaen
in Thailand. Table 2 presents the monthly average of daily
solar radiation on horizontal surface and ambient temper-
ature based on recorded data.
3.1.2. Energy balance for the upper convective zone (UCZ)
Due to convection, the UCZ zone can be assumed to
have a uniform temperature T
u
. The UCZ is treated as a
single layer with the constant thermophysical properties
of the fluid throughout the thickness of the layer. The
energy flows in the solar pond is in the form of heat, thus,
the heat balance as shown in Fig. 3 can be written as:
q
u
C
pu
l
u
@T
u
@t
¼ ðI
o
À I
lu
Þ þ k
u
@T
@x
¸
¸
¸
¸
x¼lu
À q
u
ð8Þ
where q
u
is the rate of total heat loss per unit area from the
pond due to convection, evaporation, radiation as well as
heat losses through the wall (Kurt et al., 2000) as expressed
below:
q
u
¼ q
conv
þ q
e
þ q
r
þ q
su
ð9Þ
The convective heat loss from pond surface is given by
q
conv
¼ h
conv
ðT
u
À T
amb
Þ ð10Þ
where convection heat transfer coefficient is determined
from
h
conv
¼ 5:7 þ 3:8V ð11Þ
where V is the average monthly wind speed at Khon Kaen
Thailand as recorded in Table 2.
The evaporative heat loss is given by
q
e
¼
Lh
conv
ðP
v
À P
1
Þ
1:6C
P
P
atm
ð12Þ
where
P
1
¼ R
h
exp 18:403 À
3885
T
amb
þ 230
_ _
ð13Þ
where R
h
is the monthly average relative humidity at Khon
Kaen Thailand as recorded in Table 2.
P
v
¼ exp 18:403 À
3885
T
u
þ230
_ _
ð14Þ
The radiation heat loss is given by
q
r
¼ e
w
r T
4
u
À T
4
sky
_ _
ð15Þ
where e
w
is the emissivity of water which is assumed to be
0.83 and r is the Stefan–Boltzmann’s constant (5.67 Â
10
À8
W/m
2
K
4
).
Sky temperature is given by (Kurt et al., 2000) as:
T
sky
¼ T
amb
À 0:55 þ 0:061
ffiffiffiffiffiffiffi
P
1
_
_ _
0:25
ð16Þ
q
su
is the rate of heat loss from the side walls of upper con-
vective zone per unit area of the pond given by:
q
su
¼
P
A
s
l
u
U
su
ðT
u
À T
amb
Þ ð17Þ
where U
su
is the overall heat transfer coefficient from fluid
inside the upper convective zone to the ambient.
The heat balance for upper convective zone in non-dif-
ferential form can be written as
q
u
C
pu
l
u
T
tþDt
u
À T
t
u
_ _
Dt
¼ I
t
j
x¼0
À I
t
j
x¼lu
_ _
À k1
2
T
t
u
À T
t
1
Dx
1
2
_ _
À q
t
u
ð18Þ
where t is the time, Dt is the time increment and T
1
is the
temperature of the first layer of the NCZ as defined in
Fig. 3.
From the above equation, the UCZ layer temperature
can be obtained as follow:
0
1
2
3
4
5
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1
I
x
/I
o
D
e
p
t
h

(
m
)
Equation (6)
Equation (7)
Fig. 4. Variation of radiation intensity with depth inside water as
calculated on the basis of two different correlations given by Eqs. (6)
and (7).
Table 2
Metrological data for Khon Kaen Thailand based on the monthly
average.
Month Insolation,
H (MJ/m
2
day)
T
amb
(°C)
T
min
(°C)
T
max
(°C)
V
(m/s)
R
h
(%)
January 15.6 26.18 18.4 30.6 8.5 56
February 16.8 27.41 19.8 32 6.4 54
March 17.8 30.4 23.6 34.4 7.9 55
April 18.7 31.05 25.5 34.1 6.9 61
May 19.2 30.29 25.8 32.6 7.5 70
June 19.6 30.04 26 32.1 7.9 72
July 19.2 29.26 25.7 31.2 8.1 76
August 18.9 28.91 25.3 30.8 7.4 77
September 18.5 28.46 24.9 30.3 8.5 76
October 18.1 28.53 23.9 30.7 9.3 70
November 17.6 26.86 20.7 29.8 10.1 62
December 17.4 25.34 28.2 29 9.5 58
S. Tundee et al. / Solar Energy 84 (2010) 1706–1716 1711
T
tþDt
u
¼T
t
u
þ
Dt
q
u
C
pu
l
u
I
t
j
x¼0
ÀI
t
j
x¼lu
_ _
þk1
2
T
t
u
ÀT
t
1
Dx
1
2
_ _
Àq
t
u
_ _
ð19Þ
where q
t
u
is obtained from Eq. (9) by considering the corre-
sponding values evaluated at time, t.
3.1.3. Energy balance for the non-convective zone (NCZ)
The energy balance for the NCZ as shown in Fig. 3 is
governed by the heat diffusion equation and expressed by
Eq. (1). However, here this layer is also subjected to some
heat losses through the wall surrounding it. This rate of
heat loss is assumed to be proportional to the temperature
difference between the water in non-convective zone and
the ambient temperature.
The NCZ is divided into different layers for which the
energy equation is formulated below. Fig. 3 shows the divi-
sion of the NCZ with the temperature in the first layer
denoted by T
1
and in the last layer by T
f
.
Thus, the energy balance for any layer i other than the
first layer, 1 and the last layer, f as shown in Fig. 3 can
be written in the non-differential form as:
q
i
C
Pi
Dx
i
T
tþDt
i
À T
t
i
Dt
¼ k

1
2
T
t
iÀ1
À T
t
i
_ ¸
1
2
ðDx
iÀ1
þ Dx
i
Þ
À k

1
2
Â
T
t
i
À T
t
iþ1
_ ¸
1
2
ðDx
i
þDx
iþ1
Þ
þ I
x

1
2
ð Þ
À I
x

1
2
ð Þ
_ _
À
P
A
s
Dx
i
U
sl
T
t
i
À T
t
amb
_ _
ð20Þ
Hence, the NCZ layer temperature can be expressed as:
T
tþDt
i
¼T
t
i
þ
Dt
q
i
C
p
i
k

1
2
1
Dx
2
i
T
t
iÀ1
ÀT
t
i
_ ¸
Àk

1
2
1
Dx
2
i
T
t
i
ÀT
t
iþ1
_ ¸
_
þ
1
Dx
i
½I
x
ðiÀ
1
2
Þ
ÀI
x
ðiþ
1
2
Þ
Š À
P
A
s
U
sl
T
t
i
ÀT
t
amb
_ _
_
ð21Þ
The above equation can be utilized to calculate the tem-
perature at node i at time t + Dt when the temperature is
known for node i À 1, i and i + 1 at time t.
3.1.4. Energy balance for the lower convective zone (LCZ)
Heat balance for LCZ as shown in Fig. 3 can be written
as:
q
l
C
pl
l
l
@T
l
@t
¼ I
l
u
þl
n
þ k
f þ
1
2
ð Þ
@T
@x
¸
¸
¸
¸
x¼luþln
À q
sl
À q
g
À q
ext
ð22Þ
where, I
luþln
is the solar intensity available at l
u
þ l
n
depth,
q
sl
is the rate of heat loss per unit area through side walls of
LCZ, q
g
is the heat loss per unit area through the pond bot-
tom to the ground and q
ext
is the rate of heat extraction per
unit area of the solar pond by thermosyphons heat
exchanger.
Heat loss from the side walls of LCZ can be obtained
from:
q
sl
¼
P
A
s
l
l
U
sl
ðT
l
À T
amb
Þ ð23Þ
Heat loss to the ground is given by:
q
g
¼ U
g
ðT
l
À T
g
Þ ð24Þ
Energy balance in non-differential from can be written
as:
q
l
C
pl
l
l
T
tþDt
l
À T
t
l
_ _
Dt
¼ I
t
j
x¼ðluþlnÞ
À U
g
T
t
l
À T
t
g
_ _
À
P
A
s
l
l
U
sl
T
t
l
À T
t
amb
_ _
þ k
f þ
1
2
T
t
f
À T
t
l
Dx
f
2
_ _
À q
t
ext
ð25Þ
Hence, the LCZ layer temperature can be obtained from
Eq. (26) as:
T
tþDt
i
¼ T
t
i
þ
Dt
q
l
C
pl
l
l
I
t
x¼ðluþlnÞ
À U
g
T
t
l
À T
t
g
_ _ _
À
P
A
s
l
l
U
sl
T
t
l
À T
t
amb
_ _
þ k
f þ
1
2
T
t
f
À T
t
l
Dx
f
2
_ _
À q
t
ext
_
ð26Þ
3.1.5. Numerical calculation procedure
Computer code was written on the basis of the mathemat-
ical approach outlined in the previous section to solve the
energy balance equations for the three layers of the solar
pond and obtain the temperature distribution inside each
layer. The input parameters for the program includes solar
pond dimensions, climatic parameters including ambient
temperature and solar radiation intensity as obtained from
the meteorological data for Khon Kaen, Thailand. Numeri-
cal calculations were initialized by assuming the temperature
of the various layer of the solar pond to be equal to the ambi-
ent temperature at time, t = 0. Firstly, the code determines
the value for various internal and external heat transfer coef-
ficients and the liquid properties in different layers of the
pond on the basis of the initial (i.e. ambient) temperature.
The obtained values of various heat transfer coefficients
along with the values for other climatic parameters were fur-
ther used to calculate the temperatures for different layers of
the solar pond at time interval Dt. Using the same procedure,
the code can be used to determine the temperatures of the
layers for anyselectedtime interval or time of the day. Hence,
the hourly and daily temperature values as well as the daily
solar pond efficiency can be plotted from the output data.
4. Performance of the experimental solar pond and
comparison with simulation model
The solar pond at Rajamangala University of Technol-
ogy, Isan Khon Kaen Campus in Thailand has been
1712 S. Tundee et al. / Solar Energy 84 (2010) 1706–1716
continuously operating since 6 January 2008. Experimental
work on the heat extraction from the solar pond using
designed HPHE system was conducted in the summer of
year 2008. Fig. 5 shows the seasonal variation of lower con-
vective zone temperature, denoted by T
LCZ
in Fig. 2, since
the pond started operating. During the 8 month time per-
iod plotted on the graph, the pond first showed uniform
increase in the LCZ temperature, since it began opera-
tional, until it reached a maximum value of 42 °C on 17
June and then it presented steady decline. The minimum
LCZ temperature of about 32 °C occurred on 7 February.
In the considered time, the ambient temperature varied
from a minimum of 20 °C on 7 February to the maximum
of 35 °C on 21 April. For the solar pond, the rate of heat-
ing of LCZ is directly proportional to the incoming solar
radiation and inversely proportional to the thickness of
the LCZ. Here, the LCZ thickness is very important
parameter in the design of the solar pond. Large thickness
of the LCZ is advantageous to increase the heat storage
capacity of the pond whereas small thickness is useful to
achieve faster temperature response of the layer with the
changing weather conditions and incoming radiation inten-
sity. As shown in Fig. 5, the mathematical model has been
able to predict the pond LCZ temperature quite satisfacto-
rily. The differences in the measured and predicted results
are presumably due to the assumptions made in the formu-
lation of the model and under-prediction of the heat losses
from the pond to the ambient and ground. In addition to
this, the effect of the weather condition like heavy rainfall
and strong winds which is not considered in the present
model can magnify the heat losses from the pond thereby
reducing the LCZ temperature.
In Fig. 6, density profile in the LCZ, NCZ and UCZ are
plotted with respect to the height. It is noted that the den-
sity in UCZ and LCZ is fairly constant. The density of the
UCZ was close to that of pure water due to continuous
flushing of the pond top surface with fresh water from
water supply. For the LCZ, the density was close to satu-
rated brine due to continuous charging of the layer with
salt from a salt diffuser. Fig. 7 shows the temperature pro-
file in the pond for a typical hot summer day. The density
15
20
25
30
35
40
45
50
03-
Jan
23-
Jan
12-
Feb
03-
Mar
23-
Mar
12-
Apr
02-
May
22-
May
11-
Jun
01-
Jul
21-
Jul
10-
Aug
30-
Aug
19-
Sep
09-
Oct
Time (Date)
T
e
m
p
e
r
a
t
u
r
e

(
°
C
)
Daily mean LCZ (Experiment)
Daily mean LCZ (Model)
Ambient
Fig. 5. Comparison between measured and calculated temperature variations in the lower convective zone.
0
20
40
60
80
100
120
140
160
975 1000 1025 1050 1075 1100 1125 1150 1175 1200 1225
Density (kg/m³)

E
l
e
v
a
t
i
o
n

(
c
m
)
Date: 30 June 2008
LCZ
NCZ
UCZ
Fig. 6. Density profile of the water in the solar pond.
0
20
40
60
80
100
120
140
160
20 25 30 35 40 45 50
Temperature (°C)
E
l
e
v
a
t
i
o
n

(
c
m
)
Date: 30 June 2008
LCZ
NCZ
UCZ
Fig. 7. Temperature profile inside the solar pond.
S. Tundee et al. / Solar Energy 84 (2010) 1706–1716 1713
and temperature profiles in Figs. 6 and 7 are plotted for the
period before the actual heat extraction from the pond was
commenced.
5. Heat pipe heat exchanger (HPHE) analysis
The gravity assisted heat pipe (thermosyphon) is an
effective heat transfer device that utilises latent heat of
the working fluid, flowing under the influence of gravity,
to transport heat from the source to the sink. As the latent
heat of vaporization is relatively high, the thermosyphon
can transfer large quantity of heat with very small end to
end temperature differential and thus low thermal resis-
tance. In the thermal analysis of the heat pipe heat exchan-
ger (HPHE) constructed from 60 thermosyphon tubes,
equations and correlations from ESDU (1983) were used.
The total thermal resistance (Z
tot
) of HPHE from heat
source which in this case is the lower convective zone to
the ambient heat sink is related to the actual overall heat
transfer (Q
tot
) as given below:
Q
tot
¼
DT
eff
Z
tot
ð27Þ
where DT
eff
is effective temperature difference between heat
source and heat sink and defined by:
DT
eff
¼ T
so
À T
si
À DT
hh
ð28Þ
In Eq. (28), T
so
is heat source temperature, T
si
is the heat
sink temperature and DT
hh
is mean temperature difference
due to hydrostatic head of the liquid column in the evapora-
tor which is calculated by using formulations from ESDU
(1983). The individual thermal resistances that make up
the total thermal resistance from the heat source to the heat
sink in the thermosyphon are depicted in Fig. 8. Calculation
approach mentioned in ESDU (1983) is used to determine
each resistance element. Fig. 9 shows the schematic of the
heat pipe heat exchanger that was installed for heat extrac-
tion from the lower convective zone of the solar pond.
The thermal performance of the heat pipe heat exchan-
ger was assessed on the basis of the effectiveness-number of
transfer unit (NTU) method (Kays and London, 1994).
For a heat pipe heat exchanger with n rows of heat pipes
in the direction of flow, the following effectiveness-NTU
equations can be written:
NTU ¼
UA
tot
C
min
ð29Þ
n ¼ 1 À expðÀNTUÞ ð30Þ
where UA
tot
is the overall thermal conductance of the ther-
mosyphon heat exchanger as calculated in the previous sec-
tion, i.e.
UA
tot
¼
1
Z
tot
ð31Þ
C
min
is equal to heat capacity rate of the cold (C
c
) or hot
(C
h
) fluid, whichever is small. In the present case, the heat
capacity of the lower convective zone is large enough as
compare to the heat capacity of the air flowing through
the HPHE condenser therefore C
min
represents the heat
capacity of the cold fluid.
Effectiveness of the heat exchanger can also be obtained
from:
n ¼
Q
tot
Q
max
ð32Þ
The maximum possible heat transfer from the heat
exchanger can be expressed as:
Q
max
¼ m

a
C
pa
ðT
LCZ
À T
ai
Þ ð33Þ
Z1, Z9 Convection resistance
Z2, Z8 Conduction resistance
Z3f, Z3p, Z7 Internal resistance of boiling and condensing
(f denotes film and p denotes pool boiling)
Z5 Thermal resistance due to vapour pressure drop
Z10 Axially thermal conduction resistance
Z4, Z6 Vapour liquid interface resistance
Top of condenser
Bottom of evaporator
Z1
Z2
Z3f
Z3p
Z4
Z5
Z6
Z7
Z8
Z10
Z9
Condensate
Vapour
Heat source (T
so
)
Heat source (T
si
)
Heat pipe
container
Fig. 8. Thermal resistance and their locations.
T
ao
T
ai
T
LCZ
Evaporator
Section
Condenser
Section
Air Out
Lower
Convective
Zone
Air In
Fig. 9. Heat pipe heat exchanger (HPHE) installed inside the lower
convective zone (LCZ) of the solar pond and the associated temperatures.
1714 S. Tundee et al. / Solar Energy 84 (2010) 1706–1716
6. HPHE results and discussion
It is evident from the Eq. (27) that the thermal perfor-
mance of the HPHE is dependent on the solar pond tem-
perature. While the solar pond LCZ temperature is low,
the thermosyphon will have low thermal performance due
to the high thermal resistance encountered by the working
fluid (R134a) at the low operating temperatures. For high
LCZ temperature in solar pond, the HPHE shows superior
thermal performance owing to the improvement in the fig-
ure of merit of the working fluid at high temperatures
(Dunn and Reay, 1994). As a result, the effectiveness of
the thermosyphon based heat exchanger for heat extraction
from LCZ increases at higher pond temperatures. For large
quantity of heat extraction from the LCZ, the pond tem-
perature will eventually decrease which will result in the
corresponding decrease in the performance of the ther-
mosyphon. This cycle is repeated continuously in the heat
extraction by two phase thermosyphon heat exchanger.
Fig. 10 shows the solar pond LCZ temperature and heat
extraction rate by HPHE from the experimental solar pond
at Khon Kaen province for 3 h time period. The heat
extraction rate showed somewhat cyclic variation with
respect to the time as discussed above. It is noted from
the graph that the LCZ temperature is fairly constant
which can be due to small quantity of heat extraction rate
as compared to the overall thermal capacity of the pond
and remote location of the LCZ temperature measurement
point from the HPHE evaporator.
Fig. 10 also shows the variation of inlet and outlet air
temperature across the HPHE condenser. It is noted from
the graph that the average temperature of LCZ and tem-
perature of inlet air at condenser section was 39.9 °C and
28.8 °C respectively. With 60 thermosyphon tubes, the rate
of heat extraction was around 100 W on the continuous
basis for a time period of 3 h which resulted in very slight
decrease from 40 °C to 39 °C in the solar pond LCZ tem-
perature. It should be noted that the size and simplicity
of the heat pipe heat exchanger, which includes only 60
thermosyphon tubes without any fins or heat enhancement
surfaces on the evaporator or condenser sides, restricts the
heat extraction rate from the LCZ to the stated values. In
this case, design modifications including increase in the
heat transfer area and augmentation in the heat exchange
process can improve the extraction rate. However, the pres-
ent design of the heat exchanger based on the passively
operating thermosyphon provided a sustainable and energy
efficient method of extracting heat stored in the solar pond.
Fig. 11 plots the overall heat exchanger effectiveness for
condenser inlet air velocity ranging from 1 to 5 m/s and for
solar pond LCZ temperature of 40 °C. It is noted from the
plot that the effectiveness decreases with the increase in the
inlet air velocity which is due to the decrease in the temper-
ature of the air exiting the HPHE exchanger. As in this case
the heat capacity of the lower convective zone is very high,
an increase in the air flow velocity through the HPHE con-
denser results in the corresponding decrease in the air out-
let temperature which in turn decreases the effectiveness of
the heat exchanger as per simplified form of Eq. (32) given
below.
n ¼
T
ao
À T
ai
T
LCZ
À T
ai
ð34Þ
The investigation showed that the thermal performance
of the thermosyphon heat exchanger can be increased up to
43% by decreasing the inlet air velocity from 5 m/s to 1 m/
s. The outcome of the simulation approach is compared
with the experimental results on the basis of effectiveness
versus NTU plot in Fig. 12. As evident form the plot, the
0
20
40
60
80
100
120
0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160 180 200
Time (minute)
H
e
a
t

e
x
t
r
a
c
t
i
o
n

(
W
)
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
T
e
m
p
e
r
a
t
u
r
e
(
°
C
)
Heat extraction rate
Air inlet temperature
Air outlet temperature
LCZ temperature
Fig. 10. Heat extraction rate and related temperature distribution during
heat transfer process from solar pond.
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
0 1 2 3 4 5 6
Mean air velocity (m/s)
E
f
f
e
c
t
i
v
e
n
e
s
s

(
%
)
Fig. 11. Effect of air velocity on the heat exchanger effectiveness.
0
0.1
0.2
0.3
0.4
0.5
0.6
0.7
0.8
0.9
1
0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5 4 4.5 5
NTU
E
f
f
e
c
t
i
v
e
n
e
s
s
Model
Exp (V=1 m/s)
Exp (V=2 m/s)
Exp (V=3 m/s)
Exp (V=4 m/s)
Exp (V=5 m/s)
Fig. 12. Effectiveness versus NTU plot for the heat pipe heat exchanger.
S. Tundee et al. / Solar Energy 84 (2010) 1706–1716 1715
predicted trend showed good agreement with the experi-
mentally obtained results. It is noted that the effectiveness
and NTU shows increase with the decrease in the inlet
air velocity which is very typical for the heat exchangers.
In the present application the main objective is to extract
heat from the pond at high temperature, therefore low
velocity at the HPHE condenser will provide twofold ben-
efit of increase in heat transfer effectiveness and low power
consumption by the air blower.
7. Conclusions
In this paper, heat extraction from a small-scale solar
pond by means of two-phase heat pipe heat exchanger
has been studied. A heat pipe heat exchanger was installed
in the lower convective zone of the salinity gradient solar
pond to extract heat on the continuous basis. Detailed
experimental and theoretical investigation has been con-
ducted on the thermal performance of the salinity-gradient
solar pond and two phase heat extraction system. A math-
ematical model to predict the temperature profile for differ-
ent zones in the solar pond and to access the thermal
performance of the thermosyphon equipped heat exchan-
ger on the basis of the effectiveness-NTU approach has
been explained in detail. The small scale thermosyphon
(or heat pipe) heat exchanger used for extracting heat from
the solar pond showed a continuous heat extraction rate of
about 100 W. As a result, there was a drop in temperature
of lower convective zone from 40 °C to 39 °C in 3 h period
of heat extraction. For the conducted tests, the maximum
effectiveness of 43% for heat exchanger at the air inlet
velocity of 1 m/s was achieved. The predicted outcomes
from the mathematical model showed reasonable agree-
ment with the experimental results.
Acknowledgements
The authors would like to express their sincere gratitude
for the support provided by Rajamangala University of
Technology and Global Cities of RMIT University for
undertaking the present research work.
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