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Reducing Unwanted Gains During the Cooling Season From a Heat Pipe Augmented Passive Solar Heating System

[+] Author Affiliations
Brian S. Robinson, M. Keith Sharp

University of Louisville, Louisville, KY

Paper No. ES2012-91289, pp. 59-64; 6 pages
  • ASME 2012 6th International Conference on Energy Sustainability collocated with the ASME 2012 10th International Conference on Fuel Cell Science, Engineering and Technology
  • ASME 2012 6th International Conference on Energy Sustainability, Parts A and B
  • San Diego, California, USA, July 23–26, 2012
  • Conference Sponsors: Advanced Energy Systems Division, Solar Energy Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4481-6
  • Copyright © 2012 by ASME


The heat pipe augmented solar heating system significantly reduces heating loads relative to other conventional passive space heating systems [1–3]. Yet unwanted thermal gains during the cooling season from passive solar systems increase cooling loads and, in extreme cases, may even increase overall space conditioning loads relative to a nonsolar building. The objective of this study was to compare the effectiveness of several design modifications and control strategies for the heat pipe wall to reduce unwanted gains. MATLAB was used to simulate four different unwanted gains reduction mechanisms: 1. shading to block beam radiation from striking the collector, 2. an opaque cover to block all radiation from striking the collector, 3. a mechanical valve in the adiabatic section to eliminate convective heat transfer through the heat pipe into the room, and 4. switching the elevations of the evaporator and condenser sections of the heat pipe to provide heat transfer out of the room during the cooling season. For each mechanism, three different control strategies were evaluated: 1. Seasonal control, for which the prescribed mechanism is deployed at the beginning and removed at the end of the cooling season, 2. ambient temperature-based control, for which the mechanism is deployed if the forecast for the next hour (based on TMY3 weather data) is greater than 65°F, and 3. room temperature-based control, for which the mechanism is deployed if auxiliary cooling was required for the previous hour. For the seasonal strategy, the months for which the unwanted gains reduction mechanism should be deployed to minimize overall space conditioning loads were estimated with a season determination ratio (SD), defined as the monthly ratio of unwanted gains to heating load. Results suggested that SD may be a ‘universal’ parameter that can be applied across a range of climates for quick assessment of its optimal cooling season. With TMY3 data for Louisville, KY, the heat pipe system performed best with ambient temperature-based control. The mechanical valve was the best single mechanism. While in many cases the combination of the valve with a cover or shading produced slightly better performance than the mechanical valve alone, these additional reductions were small. Switching elevations of the evaporator and condenser sections produced little cooling, because of the low thermal emittance of the absorber and low thermal transmittance of the cover, and for the Louisville climate, small diurnal temperature swings during the summer.

Copyright © 2012 by ASME



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