Solar energy has been actively used to drive cooling cycles for domestic and industrial applications, especially in remote areas with a lack of electricity supply for running conventional refrigeration or air-conditioning systems. A number of solar cooling technologies exists but their market penetration level is relatively low due to the high capital costs involved and a long pay-back period. Extensive R & D activities are underway at Universities and industrial companies across many countries to improve performance and reduce capital and running costs of solar cooling systems.Systems based on application of a liquid piston converter for solar water pumping and dynamic water desalination have been developed at Northumbria University. Some preliminary work has been completed on the development of a new solar cooling system built around the above fluid piston converter. In this work, the task is to experimentally and numerically investigate performance of the solar cooling system with the fluid piston converter. The developed theoretical model then can be used for determination of its rational design parameters.Experimental tests were conducted in the Energy Laboratory of the Faculty. The test rig consisted of a solar simulator and evacuated tube solar collector, coupled to the liquid piston converters, equipped with a heat exchanger. Three different configurations of the solar cooling unit were tested and a data acquisition system with pressure, temperature and liquid piston displacement sensors was used to evaluate the experimental performance on the cooling capacity.In the theoretical part of the study, the thermodynamic model of the solar cooling system was developed. In the calculation scheme, the system was split into a number of control volumes and ordinary differential equations of energy and mass conservation were used to describe mass and heat transfer in each such volume. The system of ordinary equations then was solved numerically in MATLAB/Simulink environment and information on the variations of pressure and temperatures in the control volumes of the system over the cycle were obtained.Calibration of the mathematical model with the use of experimental data demonstrated that the model predicts the performance of the system with accuracy acceptable for engineering purposes.Experimental investigations showed that laboratory prototypes of the system demonstrate a stable operation during the tests with an amplitude and frequency of liquid piston oscillations being about 4- 6 cm and 3 Hz, respectively. The reduction in the air temperature in the cooling space was about 1 and 2 K, compared to the ambient temperature. The cooling effect increases with the raise in the heat input into the solar collector and in the flow rate of cooling water. The developed mathematical model of the system describes the pressure variation in the cycle, amplitude and frequency of oscillation of pistons with a level accuracy sufficient for performing engineering design calculations.Overall, both experimental and theoretical investigations confirm that the system demonstrates a capacity to produce a cooling effect with utilisation of solar energy. However, further R & D is required to enhance its performance.
|Publication status||In preparation - Jul 2016|