Research Papers

Solar Thermal Panels for Small-Medium Scale Air Cleaners in Major Cities

[+] Author and Article Information
Francisco J. Arias

Department of Fluid Mechanics,
University of Catalonia,
ESEIAATC/Colom 11,
Barcelona 08222, Spain
e-mail: francisco.javier.arias@upc.edu

Salvador De Las Heras

Department of Fluid Mechanics,
University of Catalonia,
ESEIAATC/Colom 11,
Barcelona 08222, Spain
e-mail: salvador.delasheras@upc.edu

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Solar Energy Division of ASME for publication in the Journal of Solar Energy Engineering: Including Wind Energy and Building Energy Conservation. Manuscript received July 8, 2018; final manuscript received May 5, 2019; published online May 28, 2019. Assoc. Editor: Ming Qu.

J. Sol. Energy Eng 141(6), 061006 (May 28, 2019) (6 pages) Paper No: SOL-18-1306; doi: 10.1115/1.4043752 History: Received July 08, 2018; Accepted May 08, 2019

Air quality in major cities is reaching worrisome levels across the planet owing to large-scale industrialization. As a result, air purification systems are becoming a fertile and emerging field for research. Here, consideration is given to the use of a small-medium scale air purification system for cities using a kind of solar thermal panels by inducing local convective currents intended to be used in parks, housing estates, or similar urban places providing a local improvement of the quality of the air. The main difficulty which arose when attempting to use these convective currents is that the upward flow of hot air, which has been cleaned from contaminant particles during its upward travel, must be returned back to the ground. To accomplish this, air must be cooled during the travel in order to obtain an effective buoyancy. Several possible solutions have been proposed in the past, for example, the use of a dedicated cooling system as is the use of water spraying systems which could be an attractive option for large towers. However, for small-medium scale air cleaners, dedicated spraying cooling systems are out of question either because of the requirement of water flow or because of the high local humidity generated which can be uncomfortable for humans. One possible solution could be taking advantage of vertical panels in which a side of the panel is permanently irradiated and the other is permanently in the shadow; in this way, heating and cooling could be performed eliminating the need for specialized cooling systems, and although the effective buoyancy—and then the purified air mass flow—of such a system is considerably reduced, nevertheless, it could still be acceptable for local small-scale applications. Utilizing a simplified physical model, the effective buoyancy and attainable air mass flow were calculated. It is shown that for a small panel of 5 m-height or thereabouts, an air flow per unit of width ∼0.4 kg/s is attainable, and for a 10 m-height panel, an air flow per unit of width 0.6 kg/s is attainable. Computational fluid dynamics simulations were performed which agree with the analytical results within ±30 %.

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Fig. 3

The attainable air flow rate per unit width of the panel for a 5-m height panel as a function of the fraction x

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Fig. 7

Comparison between the predicted air flow rate per unit width and the CFD simulation

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Fig. 2

Schematic of flow in the vertical solar plate

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Fig. 1

A pictorial scheme of the idea discussed. Top: a 10 m panel for local medium-scale air cleaning and bottom: a 2 m panel for local small-scale air cleaning.

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Fig. 4

The attainable air flow rate per unit width and as a function of the height L and using x = 1

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Fig. 5

Temperature profile from the CFD simulation for a 1-m height column

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Fig. 6

Velocity profile from the CFD simulation for a 1-m height column



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