In United Arab Emirates (UAE), a huge proportion of electrical energy consumed in buildings is used to run air conditioning equipments. This is because UAE’s climate is characterized by very high ambient temperatures and high humidity, especially during summer periods.
There is need to promote air conditioning systems that are run by renewable energy based power because of the environment threats and energy security negative issues associated with conventional fossil fuel – energy powered systems. The huge buildings’ cooling loads occur during periods of high solar insolation; this creates a huge potential of using solar powered cooling systems for air conditioning applications.
However, the solar air conditioning systems still face a number of challenges in UAE which include; the availability of cheap electricity from fossil fuel resources and lack of government incentives to promote renewable energy resources. In order to understand the potential of applying solar cooling systems for air conditioning applications versus conventional systems, there was a need to experimentally and/or theoretically evaluate the performance of pilot solar cooling systems in UAE.
In this project, the performance of a 10 TR solar cooling system in Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) Emirate of UAE was evaluated by both experiment and theoretical simulation. TRNSYS, a transient – systems simulation software that was developed by Solar Energy Laboratory – University of Winsconsin, was used for the purpose of the theoretical simulations of the system.
The solar cooling absorption equipment used for this study is an R&D system that was developed by CSEM – uae in RAK for the purpose of assessing the potential of applying solar cooling systems in UAE. The solar cooling system is based on absorption chilling technology run by hot water produced by a field of evacuated tube solar collectors.
Experimental results were compared with TRNSYS – theoretical simulations results and areas of possible improvements in the solar cooling system were recommended. Results of the study show that the solar cooling system runs with a COP in the range of 0.60 – 0.80, with an average COP of 0.70.
It was also observed that the inlet cooling and hot water temperatures to the absorption chiller have a huge impact on the performance of the solar cooling system. A need to isolate the absorption chiller hot water circuit from the hot water stratified tank by incorporation of a heat exchanger between the chiller and the stratified tank was also identified. This will help to improve the degree of stratification during the operation of the solar cooling system.
Theoretical performance evaluation of the system using a typical TMY2 weather data shows that the system can meet its cooling requirement for at least eight (8) months of the year. In conclusion, this study has indicated that solar cooling for air conditioning application in UAE has a huge potential. However, further research is necessary to enable improvement of the performance of solar cooling systems and to assess the possibility of commercialization of such systems.
Source: University of Gävle
Author: Ssembatya, Martin