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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

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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