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Performance evaluation of a double pass PV/T solar air heater

with and without ns


Rakesh Kumar
*
, Marc A. Rosen
Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, 2000 Simcoe Street North Oshawa, Ontario, L1H 7K4, Canada
a r t i c l e i n f o
Article history:
Received 19 October 2010
Accepted 23 December 2010
Available online 12 January 2011
Keywords:
Solar energy
Photovoltaic
Solar thermal collector
PV/T solar collector
Double pass with ns
Thermal performance
Collector efciency
a b s t r a c t
A photovoltaic/thermal (PV/T) solar air heater with a double pass conguration and vertical ns in the
lower channel is investigated. The ns are arranged perpendicular to the direction of air ow to enhance
the heat transfer rate and efciency. Air enters the upper channel of the air heater and subsequently
ows to the lower channel in the opposite direction. A comprehensive steady state analysis is performed,
including energy balances for the upper glass cover, the superstrate of the photovoltaic module, the
absorber surface, the back plate and the air in upper and lower columns. The effects of design, climatic
and operating parameters are evaluated on outlet air temperature, cell temperature, thermal (energy)
efciency, electrical efciency and total equivalent thermal efciency. Thermal performance character-
istic curves are also developed for the PV/T collector. The effects of the presence of ns in the lower air
channel, the depth of ducts of the air channels, ow rate, inlet air temperature and packing factor are
evaluated on the thermal and electrical efciencies. The extended n area reduces the cell temperature
considerably, from 82

C to 66

C. Impact assessments on thermal and electrical outputs of the packing
factor are reported, recognizing that higher packing factors are benecial as they lead to the production
of more electrical output per unit collector area and help in controlling the cell temperature.
2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
1. Introduction
The acceptance of a solar energy technology depends on its
efciency, cost-effectiveness, durability and reliability, among other
factors. Many solar thermal systems, such as solar water heaters, air
heaters and distillation systems, have advanced in terms of ef-
ciency and reliability. Their efciencies are in the range of about 40
to 60% for low and medium temperature applications [1]. Also, the
conversion of solar energy to electricity has gained much attention
in the last two decades, inpart due to the signicant price reduction
of photovoltaic modules and the increased availability of incentives
in many parts of world [2]. However, the nominal efciency of
mono-crystalline silicon based module is still around 20% and the
cost of production of PV power remains considerably higher than
the generation of solar thermal heat [3]. The nominal efciency of
photovoltaic cells or modules is determined at reference conditions
(solar irradiance 1000 W/m
2
, cell temperature 25

C and air mass
1.5), however, in real photovoltaic cell applications the nominal
operating cell temperature (NOCT) varies between 33 and 55

C,
much higher than the reference cell temperature 25

C. The higher
NOCT is considered a major cause in the reduction of efciency and
the electrical power output of photovoltaic modules [4]. The
concept of photovoltaic/thermal (PV/T) has been recognized for
many decades but in last few years there has been growing interest
in this technology, which can achieve lower operating cell
temperatures. In PV/Tsolar collectors, thermal and electrical energy
are generated simultaneously, with the production of heat and
electricity often more cost effective from the combined system.
Many designs of PV/T solar collectors have been proposed and
tested in the past [5,6]. Some systems use water as a heat transfer
uid while others use air. In most PV/T solar air heater designs, the
heat transfer uid ows under the collector surface [7,8]. But, due
to the low thermal conductivity of air, the heat transfer process is
relatively slow [9]. To increase the heat transfer rate from absorber
surface to air, many modications have beenproposed in the design
and air movement in PV/Tair collectors, including the use of nned,
corrugated absorbers and multiple-pass air ow congurations
[10e14].
Cox and Raghuraman [14] have performed detailed computer
simulations aimed at improving the solar absorptance and
reducing the infrared (IR) emittance of at plate air PV/T collec-
tors. Garg and Adhikari [15] simulated the performance of single
and double glass congurations of PV/T air heating collectors
based on the analytical solution of a differential equation that
* Corresponding author. Tel.: 1 905 721 8668; fax: 1 905 721 3370.
E-mail addresses: rakesh.kumar@uoit.ca (R. Kumar), marc.rosen@uoit.ca
(M.A. Rosen).
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
Applied Thermal Engineering
j ournal homepage: www. el sevi er. com/ l ocat e/ apt hermeng
1359-4311/$ e see front matter 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.applthermaleng.2010.12.037
Applied Thermal Engineering 31 (2011) 1402e1410
yields the air temperature along the direction of uid ow. Tri-
panagnostopoulos et al. [16] constructed and eld tested covered
and uncovered PV/T collector systems with both water and air as
the heat transfer uids. The performance of these PV/T collectors
was observed to be further boosted by the use of diffuse reectors
made of at aluminum sheets. Kalogirou [17] in his simulations
using TRNSYS found that the optimum ow rate of the PV/T water
system is 25 l/h (0.007 kg/s) for a 5.1 m
2
PV/T collector area. In
most of these studies the collector was essentially a single-pass air
heater and the air ow under the absorber surface and above the
metallic back plate. Sopian [18] has reported improved perfor-
mance for PV/T double-pass air heaters over single-pass units due
to the efcient cooling of photovoltaic cells. The effects of using
double-pass ows in PV/T air collectors have been studied [19e21]
and performance improvements have been reported with ns and
compound parabolic concentrator (CPC). But, in all of these
investigations the presence of a superstrate of the photovoltaic
module have been neglected and the air heater efciency is
calculated simply by adding the thermal (low grade) energy ef-
ciency with the electrical (high grade) efciency. The true energy
saving from this type system can be evaluated in terms of the total
equivalent thermal efciency. In this study, the earlier work is
extended and a more comprehensive analysis is presented,
including each component of a double pass PV/T air heater and
a determination for the total equivalent thermal efciency in
addition thermal and electrical efciencies.
In this investigation the design of PV/T air heater is considered
with a double pass conguration and vertical ns in the lower
channel. The objective is to better understand the impacts of such
modications on PV/T solar air heaters, and to provide useful
information for designers and potential users. The ns are taken to
be perpendicular to the direction of air ow to enhance heat
transfer. The air enters the upper channel of the air heater and
subsequently ows to the lower channel in the opposite direction.
A steady state analysis is developed by writing energy balances for
the upper glass cover, the superstrate of the photovoltaic modules,
the absorber surface, the back plate and the air in upper and lower
columns. The effects of system, climatic and operating parameters
are calculated on air temperature, cell temperature, thermal
(energy) efciency, electrical efciency and the total equivalent
thermal efciency. The thermal performance characteristic curves
are also developed for the proposed design. An evaluation is also
carried for the inuence of packing factor on the thermal and
electrical output of PV/T collector.
2. System description
Cross-sectional views of the proposed photovoltaic/thermal
(PV/T) solar air heater with and without ns are shown in Fig. 1(a)
and (b), respectively. In each conguration the shape and dimen-
sions of various components are identical. The only difference in
the two designs is the bottom surface of the absorber. In this
investigation the total number of ns is taken to be 24 per meter
length of collector based on the results of Garg et al. [10,18,19]. The
vertical ns increase the heat transfer area to the air in the lower
channel. The height and thickness of ns are taken 2.5 cm and
0.1 cm, respectively. The length and width of the air heater are both
taken as 1 m for both channels. The heights of the upper and the
a
b
Fig. 1. (a). Cross-sectional view of double-pass PV/T solar air heater with ns. (b). Cross-sectional view of double-pass PV/T solar air heater without ns.
R. Kumar, M.A. Rosen / Applied Thermal Engineering 31 (2011) 1402e1410 1403
lower channels are taken to be 10 cm and 3 cm, respectively. The
values of other thermo-physical parameters used in the analysis are
given in Table 1. The bottom of the air heater is considered to be
covered with breglass insulation of 5 cm thickness. The directions
of air movement in both the channels along with the depths of the
upper and lower channels are shown in the supplement diagrams
of Fig. 1(a) and (b). The solar radiation incident on the upper glass
cover is transmitted to the absorber surface. A fraction of the
incoming solar radiation on the absorber is converted into elec-
tricity by photovoltaic cells and the remaining is converted to heat.
Most of the collected heat by the absorber/cells is transferred to the
owing air in the upper and lower channels and a small part is lost
to the ambient air. In the PV/T air heater with ns (Fig. 1(a)), the
owing air in the lower channel is exposed to the extended area of
the back surface and its inuence on the electrical and thermal
performance is investigated in the present work, along with the
inuence of other parameters. The performance of the proposed
PV/T collector is evaluated under a forced circulation mode.
3. Analysis
To determine the thermal and electrical performance of the
proposed PV/T solar air heater, a steady state analysis is performed.
Expressions for energy balances are developed assuming no
temperature variation for the upper glass cover, the superstrate of
the photovoltaic module and the back plate in the direction of air
ow. The effect of thermal capacity of each of the components of
the air heater is neglected. The temperature of air is varied only in
the direction of the length of air heater. All thermo-physical
properties of the air heater are taken to be constant within the
operating temperature range of the air heater. The energy balances
are written for the upper glass, the superstrate of the photovoltaic
module, the absorber surface, the back plate and for the air in upper
and lower columns, as follows:
Upper glass cover
I
g2
h
rg1g2
_
T
g1
T
g2
_
h
rg2s
_
T
g2
T
s
_
h
cg2w
_
T
g2
T
a
_
h
cg2f1
_
T
g2
T
f1
_
(1)
where h
rg1g2
is the radiative heat transfer coefcient from the
superstrate to the upper glass, h
rg2s
is the radiative heat transfer
coefcient from the upper glass to sky, h
cg2w
is the wind induced
heat transfer coefcient from the upper glass to ambient air, and
h
cg2f1
is the convective heat transfer coefcient from the upper
glass to air. Also, T
g1
, T
g2
, T
s
, and T
a
are the temperatures of the
superstrate, the upper glass, the sky and the ambient air, respec-
tively, while T
f1
is the temperature of air in the upper channel. Also,
I
g2
is the solar radiation absorbed by the upper glass.
Air in upper channel
_ mc
f
w
1
dT
f1
dx
h
cg1f1
_
T
g1
T
f1
_
h
cg2f1
_
T
g2
T
f1
_
(2)
where w
1
is the width of the upper air channel, _ m and c
f
are the
ow rate and specic heat capacity, respectively, of air, and h
cg1f1
is
the convective heat transfer from the superstrate to air. The other
terms of Eq. (2) are as dened for Eq. (1).
Superstrate of photovoltaic module
I
g1
h
rpg1
_
T
p
T
g1
_
h
rg1g2
_
T
g1
T
g2
_
h
cg1f1
_
T
g1
T
f1
_
(3)
where h
rpg1
is the radiative heat transfer coefcient from the
absorber surface to the superstrate, T
p
is the temperature of the
absorber surface, and the other terms are as dened for Eqs. (1) and
(2). Also, I
g1
is the solar radiation absorbed by the superstrate.
Absorber/cell surface
I
p
1PI
pv
P1h
el
h
rpg1
_
T
p
T
g1
_
h
cpf2
K
1
_
T
p
T
f2
_
h
rps2
K
2
_
T
p
T
s2
_
(4)
where I
p
and I
pv
are the amounts of solar irradiance absorbed by the
absorber and photovoltaic cells, respectively, while P is the packing
factor of photovoltaic module, which is the fraction of the absorber
surface occupied by the photovoltaic cells. Also, h
el
is the electrical
efciency, h
cpf2
is the convective heat transfer coefcient from the
absorber surface to air in the lower column, h
rps2
is the radiative
heat transfer coefcients from the absorber surface to the back
plate, and T
s2
is the temperature of the back plate. The factors K
1
and K
2
are dened as [10]
K
1
h
0
_
A
0
A
_
(5)
K
2
F
0
_
A
0
A
_
(6)
where
A
0
A A
fin
h
0
1
A
fin
A
0
_
1 h
fin
_
h
fin

tanh mL
1
mL
1
m

2h
cpf2
k
fin
w
fin

F
0

1
1=e
p

A0
A
1=e
s2
1
Here, A is the area of the bottomsurface of the absorber without ns,
A
n
is area of the ns, L
1
is the height of the ns, h
o
is the n effec-
tiveness, h
n
is thenefciency, k
n
is thethermal conductivityof the
nmaterial, w
n
is nthickness, F
0
is theshapefactor for theradiative
heat transfer from the bottom of the absorber surface to the back
plate, e
p
and e
s2
are the emissivities of absorber surface and the back
plate, respectively, andh
cpf2
is theconvectiveheat transfer coefcient
from the absorber to air in the lower channel.
Air in lower channel

_ mc
f
w
2
dT
f2
dx
h
cpf2
K
1
_
T
p
T
f 2
_
h
cs2f2
_
T
s2
T
f 2
_
(7)
where w
2
is the width of lower channel, h
cs2f2
is the convective heat
transfer fromthe back plate to the air in the lower channel, T
f2
is the
Table 1
Values of various parameters used in the performance evaluation.
Parameter Value Parameter Value
Length of air heater 1.0 m Thickness of bottom insulation 5 cm
Width of air heater 1.0 m Absorbtivity of upper glass 0.04
Height of upper channel 10 cm Absorbtivity of superstrate 0.04
Height of lower channel 3 cm Absorbtivity of absorber 0.92
Height of n 2.5 cm Absorbtivity of photovoltaic cells 0.92
Thickness of n 0.1 cm Emissivity of upper glass 0.85
Reectance of upper glass 0.04 Emissivity of superstrate 0.85
Reectance of superstrate glass 0.04 Nominal efciency of PV cells 0.18
R. Kumar, M.A. Rosen / Applied Thermal Engineering 31 (2011) 1402e1410 1404
temperature of air in the lower channel, and other terms are
dened for Eqs. (2) and (4).
Back plate
h
rps2
K
2
_
T
p
T
s2
_
h
cs2f2
_
T
s2
T
f2
_
U
b
T
s2
T
a
(8)
where U
b
is the bottom heat transfer coefcient and T
a
is the
ambient air temperature. The relations for I
g1
, I
g2
, I
p
and I
pv
can be
written as follows:
I
g2
1 r
2
a
g2
I
t
(9)
I
g1
1 r
2
1 r
1

_
1 a
g2
_
a
g1
I
t
(10)
I
p
1 r
2
1 r
1

_
1 a
g2
__
1 a
g1
_
a
p
I
t
(11)
I
pv
1 r
2
1 r
1

_
1 a
g2
__
1 a
g1
_
a
pv
I
t
(12)
where I
g1
and I
g2
are the amount of solar irradiance absorbed by the
superstrate and the upper glass covers, respectively. Also, I
p
and I
pv
are the amounts of solar irradiance absorbed by the absorber and
photovoltaic cells, I
t
is the total solar radiation incident on the
upper glass surface, r
1
and r
2
are the reectances of the superstrate
and upper glass covers, a
g1
and a
g2
are the absorbtivities of the
superstrate and upper glass covers, and a
p
and a
pv
are the
absorbtivities of the absorber and photovoltaic cells.
By re-arranging Eqs. (1), (3), (4) and (6), expressions for T
g1
, T
g2
,
T
p
and T
s2
can be written as follows:
T
g1
A
11
A
12
T
p
A
13
T
f1
(13)
T
g2
B
11
B
12
T
p
B
13
T
f 1
(14)
T
p
C
11
C
12
T
f1
C
13
T
f2
(15)
T
s2
D
11
D
12
T
f 1
D
13
T
f 2
(16)
where
A
11

B
1
A
2
B
3

1 A
1
B
3
; A
12

B
2
1 A
1
B
3
; A
13

B
4
A
3
B
3

1 A
1
B
3
(17)
B
11

A
2
A
1
B
1

1 A
1
B
3
; B
12

A
1
B
2
1 A
1
B
3
; B
13

A
3
A
1
B
4

1 A
1
B
3
(18)
C
11

C
1
C
4
D
3
C
2
A
11

1C
4
D
1
C
2
A
12

; C
12

C
2
A
13
1C
4
D
1
C
2
A
12

;
C
13

C
3
C
4
D
2

1C
4
D
1
C
2
A
12

19
D
11
D
1
C
11
D
3
; D
12
D
1
C
12
; D
13
D
1
C
13
D
2
(20)
and
A
1

h
rg1g2
h
rg1g2
h
rg2s
h
cg2w
h
cg2f1
;
A
2

I
g2
h
rg2s
T
s
h
cg2w
T
a
h
rg1g2
h
rg2s
h
cg2w
h
cg2f1
A
3

h
cg2f
h
rg1g2
h
rg2s
h
cg2w
h
cg2f1
B
1

I
g1
h
rpg1
h
rg1g2
h
cg1f1
; B
2

h
rpg1
h
rpg1
h
rg1g2
h
cg1f1
B
3

h
rg1g2
h
rpg1
h
rg1g2
h
cg1f1
; B
4

h
cg1f1
h
rpg1
h
rg1g2
h
cg1f1
C
1

I
p
1 P I
pv
P
_
1 h
op
_
h
rpg1
K
1
h
cpf 2
K
2
h
rps2
;
C
2

h
rpg1
h
rpg1
K
1
h
cpf 2
K
2
h
rps2
C
3

K
1
h
cpf2
h
rpg1
K
1
h
cpf 2
K
2
h
rps2
;
C
4

K
2
h
rps2
h
rpg1
K
1
h
cpf 2
K
2
h
rcps2
D
1

K
2
h
rps2
K
2
h
rps2
h
cs2f2
U
b
; D
2

h
cs2f2
K
2
h
rps2
h
cs2f2
U
b
;
D
3

U
b
K
2
h
rps2
h
cs2f2
U
b
By substituting the expressions for T
g1
, T
g2
, T
p
and T
s
in Eqs. (2)
and (5), we obtain two rst order linear differential equations:
dT
f1
dx
X
1
X
2
T
f1
X
3
T
f2
(21)
dT
f2
dx
Y
1
Y
2
T
f1
Y
3
T
f2
(22)
where X
1
, X
2
, X
3
, Y
1
, Y
2
and Y
3
are constants which can be evaluated
using following relations:
X
1

w
1
_ mc
f
_
h
cg1f1
A
11
A
12
C
11
h
cg2f1
B
11
B
12
C
11

_
X
2

w
1
_ mc
f
_
h
cg1f1
A
13
A
12
C
12
1 h
cg2f1
B
13
B
12
C
12
1
_
X
3

w
1
_ mc
f
_
h
cg1f1
A
12
C
13
h
cg2f1
B
12
C
13
_
Y
1

w
2
_ mc
f
_
K
1
h
cpf2
C
11
h
cs2f2
D
11
_
Y
2

w
2
_ mc
f
_
K
1
h
cpf2
C
12
h
cs2f2
D
12
_
Y
3

w
2
_ mc
f
_
K
1
h
cpf2
C
13
1 h
cs2f2
D
13
1
_
In solving the differential equations in Eqs. (21) and (22), the
following boundary conditions are used:
At x 0; T
f 1
T
in
; at x L; T
f 1
T
f2
(23)
Here, T
in
is the temperature of air at the inlet of the upper air
channel, and L is the length of air heater. The solutions of Eqs. (21)
and (22) yield the temperatures of air as function of x in the
direction of air owin the upper and the lower channels and can be
written as
R. Kumar, M.A. Rosen / Applied Thermal Engineering 31 (2011) 1402e1410 1405
T
f1
x
1
Y
2
fN
1
Y
3
M
1
expN
1
x N
2
Y
3
M
2
expN
2
x
Y
3
S Y
1
g 24
T
f2
x M
1
expN
1
x M
2
expN
2
x S (25)
where
S
_
Y
2
X
1
X
2
Y
1
X
2
Y
3
Y
2
X
3
_
N
1

X
2
Y
3

X
2
Y
3

2
4X
3
Y
2
_
2
N
2

X
2
Y
3

X
2
Y
3

2
4X
3
Y
2
_
2
M
1

Y
3
S Y
1
Y
2
T
in

N
1
Y
3


N
2
Y
3

N
1
Y
3

M
2
The instantaneous thermal efciency of the PV/T air heater is
expressed as
h
th

_ mc
f
_
T
fo
T
fi
_
A
c
I
t
(26)
Here, T

and T
fo
are the air temperatures at the entrance of the
upper channel and the outlet of the lower channel, respectively, _ m
is the air owrate, and c
f
is the specic heat of air. The numerator of
Eq. (26) represents the quantity of thermal energy produced during
operation of the air heater, whereas the denominator represents
the amount of solar radiation incident over the upper glass cover
during corresponding period.
The electrical efciency of the photovoltaic cells can be evalu-
ated as follows [22e24]:
h
el
n
op
_
1 0:0045
_
T
pm
T
ref
__
(27)
where h
op
is the nominal efciency of the photovoltaic cell at the
reference temperature T
ref
, and h
el
is the efciency of the photo-
voltaic cell at the mean absorber temperature T
pm
. The mean
absorber temperature T
pm
is calculated by integrating T
p
(x) in the
direction of air ow and can be expressed as
T
pm

_
L
0
T
p
xdx
_
L
0
dx
(28)
The economic value of electric and thermal energy generally
differs, since electricity is high grade energy and heat at near-
environmental temperatures is low grade energy. To convert the
electrical efciency (of photovoltaic cells) to an equivalent thermal
efciency for a thermal power plant, the concept of equivalent
thermal electrical efciency is introduced [25,26], determined as
h
Eth

h
el
c
f1
(29)
Here c
f1
is the conversion factor of the thermal power plant and its
value in the most PV/T air heater analyses is taken to be between
0.35 and 0.40 [27]. In the present investigation, the value of c
f1
is
taken to be 0.38.
Therefore, the total equivalent thermal efciency of PV/T air
heater is calculated as
h
h
el
c
f 1
h
th
(30)
The radiative heat transfer coefcients used in Eqs. (1)e(6) are
evaluated [28] as follows:
h
rg1g2

s
_
T
2
g1
T
2
g2
_
_
T
g1
T
g2
_
1=e
g1
1=e
g2
1
h
rg2s
se
g2
_
T
2
g2
T
2
s
_
_
T
g2
T
s
_
h
rpg1

s
_
T
2
p
T
2
g1
_
_
T
p
T
g1
_
1=e
p
1=e
g1
1
h
rps2

s
_
T
2
p
T
2
s2
_
_
T
p
T
s2
_
1=e
p
A
0
=A1=e
s1
1
where s is the StefaneBoltzmann coefcient, e
g1
and e
g2
are the
emissivities of the superstrate and upper glass surfaces, e
p
and e
s2
are the emissivities of the absorber and the back plate, A
0
and A are
the areas of absorber with and without ns, and other terms are as
dened previously.
The wind induced heat transfer coefcient from the upper glass
cover is determined as [29]
h
cg2w
2:8 3:0v
where v is the wind speed. The forced convective heat transfer
coefcients to air in the upper channel are calculated using
a correlation derived from the data of Kays [30]. The Kays corre-
lation is applied, since the developed owis turbulent for the range
of ow rates encountered in the present investigation. The Kays
relation is written as
h
cg1f1
D
c1
k
f

h
cg2f1
D
c1
k
f
Nu
1
0:0158 Re
0:8
1
(31)
where the convective heat transfer coefcients h
cg1f1
and h
cg2f1
have identical values due to the characteristic length D
c1
. Also, Nu
1
and Re
1
are the Nusselt and Reynolds numbers for the upper
channel. The characteristic length D
c1
and Reynolds number Re
1
are
calculated as follows [29]:
D
c1

4w
1
H
1
w
1
2H
1

; Re
1

2 _ m
mw
1
2H
1

(32)
where w
1
and H
1
are the width and height of the upper channel, m is
the viscosity of air, and _ m is the air mass ow rate. The forced
M
2

_
SY
3
Y
1
Y
2
T
in
N
1
Y
3
Y
2
expN
2
L SY
3
Y
1
Y
2
SN
1
Y
3

N
2
Y
3
N
1
Y
3
Y
2
expN
1
L N
1
Y
3
N
2
Y
3
Y
2
expN
2
L
_
R. Kumar, M.A. Rosen / Applied Thermal Engineering 31 (2011) 1402e1410 1406
convective heat transfer coefcient to air in the lower channel from
the back plate is also calculated using a correlation derived fromthe
data of Kays and is written as
h
cs2f2
D
c2
k
f
Nu
2
0:0158 Re
0:8
2
(33)
The characteristic length D
c2
and Reynolds number Re
2
are
calculated using
D
c2

4w
2
H
2
w
2
2H
2

; Re
2

2 _ m
mw
2
2H
2

(34)
where w
2
and H
2
are the width and height of the lower channel,
respectively.
Malik and Buelow [31] obtained a ratio of the Nusselt numbers
for a rough surface (with ns) and a smooth surface (without ns).
This ratio can be written as
Nu
rough
Nu
2
1:101 8 10
6
Re
2
5 10
11
Re
2
2
(35)
Here, Nu
rough
is the Nusselt number for a rough surface and used for
the evaluation of the convective heat transfer coefcient h
cpf2
from the back of the absorber surface with ns to air.
The bottom heat transfer coefcient is calculated as
U
b

k
b
L
b
(36)
where k
b
and L
b
are the thermal conductivity and thickness of
bottom insulation, respectively.
4. Results and discussion
The performance of the proposed photovoltaic/thermal (PV/T)
solar air heater under steady state conditions is evaluated with and
without ns. The packing factor is taken to be 0.50 to divide the
absorber surface equally for thermal and electrical output. The
packing factor is dened as the fraction of absorber area occupied
by photovoltaic cells. The inuence is also determined of higher and
lower values of packing factor on the thermal and electrical ef-
ciencies. The mean absorber surface temperature is calculated and
is taken to be equal to the photovoltaic cell temperature, as the
incident solar irradiation and optical properties of the absorber and
photovoltaic cells are assumed identical. The values of the design
parameters and optical properties used in the calculation are given
in Table 1.
The thermal efciency, electrical efciency, total equivalent
thermal efciency and the rise in the air and cell temperatures are
illustrated in Fig. 2 for the solar PV/T systemwith and without ns.
It is noted that the extended area of the absorber of the systemwith
ns increases the heat transfer and thereby reduces the absorber/
cell temperature. The thermal and electrical efciencies are
signicantly improved by the addition of ns on the back side of the
absorber surface. Without ns, the relatively higher cell tempera-
ture reduces the thermal and the electrical efciencies. The addi-
tion of ns increases the thermal and electrical efciencies to 15.5%
and 10.5%, respectively. The performance results presented subse-
quently (see Figs. 3e12) are only for the PV/T air heater with ns.
The increase in the inlet air temperature as it passes through the
air heater and exits at the outlet (T
fo
T

) is shown in Fig. 3. The


increase in the air temperature with solar irradiance is almost
Fig. 2. Comparison of values of various efciencies and the rise in air and cell
temperatures for a solar PV/T system with and without ns.
Fig. 3. Variation in the air temperature rise in the air heater with solar irradiance and
air mass ow rate.
Fig. 4. Variation in the thermal efciency of air heater with solar irradiance and air
mass ow rate.
Fig. 5. Variation in the electrical efciency of the PV/T air heater with solar irradiance
and air mass ow rate.
R. Kumar, M.A. Rosen / Applied Thermal Engineering 31 (2011) 1402e1410 1407
linear and is somewhat more signicant at lower ow rates
(0.03 kg/s) than at higher ow rates. However, the variation in the
thermal efciency with solar irradiance is not very signicant
(Fig. 4). For lower ow rates (0.03 kg/s) the thermal efciency
decreases marginally as solar irradiation increases, while for higher
ow rates the thermal efciency increases slightly with solar irra-
diance. An increase in solar irradiance increases the absorber/cell
temperature and consequently reduces the electrical efciency
(Fig. 5). Therefore, in order to produce more useful heat and elec-
trical energy at higher solar irradiation levels, a high air ow rate is
required for the air heater. Although the higher ow rate reduces
the air temperature at the outlet of the air heater (Fig. 3), however it
increases the overall thermal and electrical outputs. In Fig. 6 the
total equivalent thermal electrical efciency, calculated using Eq.
(30), is plotted for various solar irradiances and air ow rates. The
variation in the total equivalent thermal efciency in Fig. 6 follows
the pattern of the thermal and electrical efciencies of Figs. 4 and 5.
The variation in cell temperature with solar irradiance is plotted
for various air ow rates in Fig. 7. The cell temperature increases
almost linearly with solar irradiance on the collector surface. The
increase in cell temperature with solar irradiance is signicant at
low ow rates (0.03 kg/s) compared to high ow rates (0.15 kg/s).
The increase in the cell temperature at lowair ow rates (0.03 kg/s)
reduces the thermal and electrical efciencies of the PV/T air
collector, as is apparent in Figs. 4 and 5. The cell temperature needs
to be maintained at the lower value to obtain higher electrical
outputs. However, the lower cell temperature produces a slight rise
in the inlet air temperature and the thermal output of air heater is
useful only for low temperature applications or pre-heating of air.
The inuences of depth of upper and lower channel on the total
equivalent thermal electrical efciency and the rise in the inlet air
temperature are shown in Figs. 8 and 9, respectively. It can be
observed that the effect of the depth is more notable for the lower
channel compared to the upper channel. As the depths change the
convective heat transfer rates to air change accordingly, but the
effects on the performance (the equivalent thermal efciency in
Fig. 8 and rise in air temperature in Fig. 9) are affected more
signicantly by the depth of the lower channel rather than the
upper channel.
Thermal characteristic curves of the proposed PV/T solar air
heater are shown in Fig. 10 for various air mass ow rates. These
curves provide information the maximum thermal heat is attain-
able from the PV/T air heater at different ow rates (0.03 kg/s,
0.06 kg/s, 0.09 kg/s, 0.12 kg/s and 0.15 kg/s) and for various inlet air
temperatures (25

C, 30

C, 35

C, 40

C and 45

C). The maximum
thermal output obtained from the PV/T collector corresponds to an
air mass ow rate of about 0.12 kg/s. Also, the solar air heater
system is not as efcient for high inlet temperature as for low inlet
temperatures. The values of (T

T
a
)/I
t
change from 0 to 0.025

C-
m
2
/W as inlet air temperature rises from 25

C to 45

C.
The electrical efciency of the PV/T air collector as a function of
(T

T
a
)/I
t
is plotted in Fig. 11. The consistent decline in electrical
efciency with increasing values of (T

T
a
)/I
t
is attributed to high
cell temperature. The thermal (Fig. 10) and electrical (Fig. 11) ef-
ciencies decline, to about 30% and 9.5% respectively, at an air mass
owrate of 0.15 kg/s, as (T

T
a
)/I
t
increases from0 to 0.025

C-m
2
/
Fig. 6. Variation in the equivalent thermal efciency of the PV/T air heater with solar
irradiance and air mass ow rate.
Fig. 7. Variation in the photovoltaic cell temperature of the PV/T air heater with solar
irradiance and air mass ow rate.
Fig. 8. Effect of depth of channels of PV/T air heater on the equivalent thermal
efciency.
Fig. 9. Effects of depth of channels of PV/T air heater on the rise in air temperature
(T
fo
T

).
R. Kumar, M.A. Rosen / Applied Thermal Engineering 31 (2011) 1402e1410 1408
W. Also, as the air mass ow rate changes from 0.03 kg/s to 0.15 kg/
s, the increase in the electrical efciency is observed about 20% (see
Fig. 11).
After cell temperature, the packing factor P is another important
parameter that signicantly affects the electrical output of the solar
PV/T collector. The packing factor is dened as the fraction of
absorber area occupied by photovoltaic cells. The effect of varying
packing factor on the thermal, electrical and the total equivalent
thermal efciencies and the rise in air temperature is provided in
Fig. 12. As the packing factor increases from0.38 to 0.98, an increase
in electrical efciency of the cell is observed due to the reduced cell
temperature. The higher packing factor produces more electrical
energy per unit collector area and changes the equivalent thermal
efciency as per Eq. (30). As the packing factor changes (0.38e0.98)
the total equivalent thermal electrical efciency of the PV/T
collector increases about 17%. Most of this increase is attributable to
the increase in high grade electrical output per unit collector area.
For higher packing factors, more surface area of the collector is used
for the production of electrical energy and this reduces to some
extent the thermal energy from the air heater. The rise in air
temperature also reduced at higher packing factors due to the fall in
the absorber temperature.
5. Conclusions
A detailed analysis of a double-pass solar photovoltaic/thermal
(PV/T) air heater with ns is performed, highlighting the signi-
cance of design, climatic and operational parameters on the
thermal, electrical and total equivalent thermal outputs. The pres-
ence of ns in the lower air channel on the absorber surface
increases the heat transfer area to air and improves the thermal,
electrical and total equivalent thermal efciencies. The extended
n area also reduces the cell temperature considerably. An almost
linear relation between thermal efciency is observed with solar
irradiance and inlet air temperature. The electrical efciency is
signicantly affected by the cell temperature, which depends on
solar irradiance, inlet air temperature, air ow rate and packing
factor. For lower air mass ow rates and higher levels of solar
irradiance, a signicant part of the input heat is lost to the ambient
environment. The thermal characteristic curves developed for the
proposed system help to estimate the useful thermal energy
obtainable at a particular solar irradiance, inlet air temperature and
air mass ow rate. The depth of the air heater is signicant in both
channels, but the depth of the lower channel plays a more prom-
inent role in the heat transfer to air. The determined inuenced of
packing factor on the thermal, electrical and total equivalent
thermal efciencies indicate that a higher packing factor is useful
for producing more electrical output per unit collector area and also
in controlling the cell temperature, but marginally reduces thermal
output. The present investigation provides useful insights into the
thermal and electrical behaviour of a double-pass air heater with
vertical ns in the lower air channels and the relevance of ns with
absorber surface in the overall performance enhancement of PV/T
collectors.
Acknowledgement
The authors gratefully acknowledge the nancial support
provided by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council
of Canada.
Nomenclature
A area of absorber (m
2
)
A
n
area of ns (m
2
)
c
f
specic heat of air (J/kg-K)
c
f1
conversion factor of the thermal power plant
D
c1
characteristic length for upper channel (m)
D
c2
characteristic length for lower channel (m)
F
0
shape factor
h heat transfer coefcient (W/m
2
-K)
H
1
height of upper channel (m)
H
2
height of lower channel (m)
I solar irradiance (W/m
2
)
k
b
thermal conductivity of bottom insulation (W/m-K)
k
n
thermal conductivity of n material (W/m-K)
L length of air heater (m)
L
1
height of n (m)
Fig. 10. Thermal characteristic curves of the proposed PV/T air heater corresponding to
various air mass ow rates.
Fig. 11. Variation of electrical efciency of PV/T air heater with inlet air temperature
and air mass ow rate.
Fig. 12. Effect of packing factor on the thermal, electrical and equivalent thermal
efciencies and the rise in the air temperature (T
fo
T

).
R. Kumar, M.A. Rosen / Applied Thermal Engineering 31 (2011) 1402e1410 1409
L
b
thickness of bottom insulation (m)
T temperature (

C)
_ m air mass ow rate (kg/s)
P packing factor
r
2
reectance of upper glass
r
2
reectance of superstrate
U bottom heat transfer coefcient (W/m
2
-K)
v wind speed (m/s)
w
1
width of upper air channel (m)
w
2
width of lower air channel (m)
w
n
n thickness
x variation of distance in the direction of L
Greek letters
a absorbtivity
e
g1
emissivity of superstrate
e
g2
emissivity of upper glass
e
p
emissivity of absorber surface
e
s2
emissivity of back plate
h
el
electrical efciency of photovoltaic cell
h
total
total equivalent thermal efciency of PV/T air heater
h
th
thermal efciency of air heater
h
o
n effectiveness
h
op
nominal efciency of photovoltaic cell
h
Eth
equivalent thermal efciency
h
n
n efciency
m viscosity of air (kg/m-s)
s StefaneBoltzmann constant (W/m
2
-K
4
)
Subscripts
a ambient
b bottom surface
cg1f1 convective superstrate to air
cg2f1 convective upper glass to air
cg2w convective upper glass to ambient
cpf2 convective absorber surface to air in lower channel
cs2f2 convective back plate to air in lower channel
el electrical
f1 air in upper channel
f2 air in lower channel
air at inlet
fo air at outlet
g1 superstrate
g2 upper glass
in inlet
p absorber surface
P packing factor
pm mean absorber temperature
ref reference temperature
pv photovoltaic module
rg1g2 radiative superstrate to upper glass
rg2s radiative upper glass to sky
rpg1 radiative absorber to superstrate
s sky
s2 back plate
th thermal
total total equivalent thermal
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