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Solar Air Conditioning Systems With PCM Solar Collectors

[+] Author Affiliations
Jorge E. González, Luis Humberto Alva S.

University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, Mayagüez, Puerto Rico

Paper No. SED2002-1040, pp. 97-107; 11 pages
  • ASME Solar 2002: International Solar Energy Conference
  • Solar Energy
  • Reno, Nevada, USA, June 15–20, 2002
  • Conference Sponsors: Solar Energy Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-1689-3
  • Copyright © 2002 by ASME


This paper investigates the technical feasibility of using a compact, air-cooled, solar absorption air conditioning system when coupled to an innovative array of solar collectors. The particular absorption system of study is a single effect that uses lithium bromide and water as the absorbent and refrigerant fluid pair. The geographical location of interest is Puerto Rico and similar subtropical regions. The heat input to the absorption system generator is provided by an array of novels flat plate solar collectors that integrate the thermal storage component into them. The proposed collectors have a phase change material (PCM) integrated into them as a storage mechanism. The PCM-integrated solar collector eliminates the need of conventional storage tanks reducing cost and space. The present work uses a paraffin-graphite composite as the PCM to increase the conductivity of the PC matrix. The paraffin’s melting point is around 89°C that is appropriate for use in absorption systems. The mathematical model that describes the thermal process in the PCM is presented and differs from the analysis of conventional flat plate solar collectors. The proposed model for the PCM considers the temporal changes but not the spatial variations. The resulting set of equations for the fluid flow, the PCM, and the collector’s surface are solved simultaneously. Results for the collectors’ thermal performance are presented along with the effects of the composition of the PCM material. The thermal performance of an absorption machine coupled to an array of the proposed PCM’s solar collectors was investigated for nominal cooling capacities of 10.5, 14, and 17.5 kW. These cooling loads are suitable for a typical house or a small business building in Caribbean Islands. Computer simulations were conducted to evaluate the overall system’s performance when subjected to dynamic cooling loads. Within the computer model, heat and mass balances are conducted on each component of the system, including the solar collectors, the air-cooled condenser, and the air-cooled absorber. Comparisons are made with an absorption air conditioning system that uses a cooling tower with conventional flat plate collectors instead of air-cooled and PCM components. Useful information about physical dimensions of collectors, number of collectors needed, and efficiency of the overall system is presented.

Copyright © 2002 by ASME



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