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School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics
Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment
Transpired Solar Collectors (TSCs) are simple low maintenance air heating systems which have been widely used for agricultural and industrial applications. In spite of their potential, these systems have not been yet widely employed in residential buildings as they are unable to generate high grade heat for moderate and low ventilation demands. Hence there is an opportunity for optimisation studies in order to enhance the thermal performance of these systems.
Optimisation and parametric studies can be costly and time consuming if carried out by physical experiments. CFD models however offer a more flexible and less expensive tool to carry out such studies. This research has aimed to optimise the geometry of the solar absorber plate using a validated CFD model which accounts for a wide range of the key factors affecting TSC performance.
A 2nd order polynomial predictive model was developed based on the CFD results with Root Mean Squared Error (RMSE) of 3.8%. The predictive model was used to identify an optimal geometry which delivers a Heat Exchange Effectiveness (HEE) of 0.739. The optimised geometry demonstrated 43% increase in HEE whilst using 28% less material compared to the baseline geometry under the same operating conditions. This geometry can be integrated with other performance enhancement techniques to further improve the thermal performance of TSCs.
Transpired Solar Collectors (TSCs) are building-integrated air-heating systems that are able to fully or partially meet the heating demands of buildings. They convert solar radiation into warm air that can either be used for ventilation, or to heat thermal storage media. TSCs are becoming an increasingly viable alternative to conventional fossil fuel-based heating systems or, more commonly, can be used in a way that is complementary to these systems such that reliance on fossil fuels is reduced. As a consequence TSCs have a potentially important role in meeting future carbon reduction goals.
This research has produced a comprehensive numerical model for TSCs based on Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) analyses. The model allows parametric studies of key variables and is differentiated from previous models in that it takes full account of factors such as: wind speed and direction, non-uniform flow, turbulent flow, solar radiation intensity, sun position and flow suction rates. It comprises a full size section of cassette-panel TSC that can be easily morphed to reflect a wide range of geometries. A multi-block meshing approach has been employed to reduce grid size and to also resolve jet flows and boundary layers taking place in the plenum and around the absorber plate. Accuracy of the CFD model has been validated against experimental data.
Modeling demonstrated that factors such as wind angle have unexpectedly significant adverse effects on system thermal performance. The studies also furthered understanding of key performance attributes including the effects of suction ratio in terms of optimising performance, and the relationship between sun angle and system operating temperature (important for effective operation of heat storage systems). Consideration of these factors is essential if the future performance of TSCs is to be optimised and the technology developed to its fullest potential.