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Research Papers

J. Sol. Energy Eng. 2018;140(5):051001-051001-10. doi:10.1115/1.4039891.

A greenhouse dryer under forced convection mode is designed and fabricated with the integration of solar collector and variable speed exhaust fan. The developed system is used for bitter gourd flakes drying under three different air mass flow rates (0.0275, 0.0551, and 0826 kg/s). Moisture content of bitter gourd flakes was decreased effectively from 96.8% to 12.2% in 17 h with optimum air mass flow rate 0.0551 kg/s, whereas open sun drying has taken 26 h to reach 20.7% moisture content. The average greenhouse dryer efficiency was found to be 19.7% at 0.0551 kg/s air mass flow rate. Shrinkage (in terms of percentage) of dried bitter gourd flakes was found to be higher as 74% at 0.0275 kg/s air mass flow rate because of higher greenhouse room air temperature. Hardness of dried bitter gourd flakes was found to be highest as 365 g at 0.0275 kg/s air mass flow rate due to less air exchange rate and high inside room temperature. On the basis of statistical analysis, Prakash and Kumar model and Logarithmic model were selected as best drying models for greenhouse and open sun drying, respectively. The dehydration of higher moisture content crops inside developed greenhouse dryer was found to be more consistent. The designed greenhouse system is recommended for small farmers.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Sol. Energy Eng. 2018;140(5):051002-051002-18. doi:10.1115/1.4039632.

This paper deals with the enhancement in exergoeconomic and enviroeconomic parameters for single-slope solar still by incorporating N identical partially covered photovoltaic thermal (PVT) collectors. Three cases: (a) single slope solar still incorporating N identical partially covered PVT flat plate collectors (FPC) (N-PVT-FPC-SS), (b) single slope solar still incorporating N identical partially covered PVT compound parabolic concentrator collectors (N-PVT-CPC-SS), and (c) conventional single slope solar still (CSSSS) have been taken to assess the improvement in various parameters. The various parameters have been computed at 0.14 m water depth, selected values of mass flow rate, and number of collectors considering four climatic conditions of New Delhi for each month of year. It has been concluded that N-PVT-FPC-SS performs best followed by N-PVT-CPC-SS and CSSSS on the basis of exergoeconomic and enviroeconomic parameters; however, CSSSS performs better than N-PVT-FPC-SS and N-PVT-CPC-SS on the basis of productivity measured in terms of ratio of monetary value of output and input. The kWh per unit cost based on exergoeconomic parameter is higher by 45.11% and 47.37%; environmental cost is higher by 65.74% and 90.02%; however, the output per unit input based on productivity is higher by 12.09% and lower by 26.83% for N-PVT-FPC-SS than N-PVT-CPC-SS and CSSSS, respectively.

Topics: Solar stills , Exergy , Water
Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Sol. Energy Eng. 2018;140(5):051003-051003-9. doi:10.1115/1.4039984.

As offshore wind turbines supported on floating platforms extend to deep waters, the various effects involved in the dynamics, especially those resulting from the influence of moorings, become significant when predicting the overall integrated system response. The combined influence of waves and wind affect motions of the structure and induce tensile forces in mooring lines. The investigation of the system response under misaligned wind-wave conditions and the selection of appropriate mooring systems to minimize the turbine, tower, and mooring system loads is the subject of this study. We estimate the 50-year return response of a semisubmersible platform supporting a 13.2 MW wind turbine as well as mooring line forces when the system is exposed to four different wave headings with various environmental conditions (wind speeds and wave heights). Three different mooring system patterns are presented that include 3 or 6 mooring lines with different interline angles. Performance comparisons of the integrated systems may be used to define an optimal system for the selected large wind turbine.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Sol. Energy Eng. 2018;140(5):051004-051004-11. doi:10.1115/1.4039985.

This study investigates the temperature profiles predicted by trnsys one-dimensional (1D) thermal storage tank models for typical charging conditions. Simulation parameters, such as grid spacing and time-step size, were varied to observe the changes in the numerical error when compared with an exact analytical solution. A Taylor series expansion was also performed on the discretized, 1D, advection–diffusion equation to obtain an expression for this numerical error. A numerical diffusion term was found which could be used to improve the prediction of the temperature profile in a storage tank simulation. Finally, the influence of this error on predictions of the annual solar fraction for a domestic hot water system was explored.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Sol. Energy Eng. 2018;140(5):051005-051005-8. doi:10.1115/1.4039986.

The heat transfer characteristics of a rectangular water tank used in a solar water heating system with a Fresnel Len were investigated qualitatively and quantitatively through the theoretical and numerical methods. The water tank is 450 mm × 400 mm × 500 mm in size and consists of 15 layers of coil pipe placed at its center. The MIX number and exergy efficiency were studied to quantify the thermal stratification of this water tank. A flow field analysis was also carried out to understand the heat transfer mechanism inside the water tank. Results indicate that the Nusselt number of shell side is increased with the growth of Reynolds number. The MIX number suggested that the thermal stratification is enhanced and then reduced with increasing flow rate. A correlation is proposed to predict the Nusselt numbers on the shell side. A detailed flow field analysis indicated that the thermal stratification is highly related to the runoff time, buoyancy force, mixing process, and geometry of the water tank.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Sol. Energy Eng. 2018;140(5):051006-051006-4. doi:10.1115/1.4039893.

The basis of a novel method for passive solar water heating homologous to the traditional thermosyphon but driven by salinity gradient induced by changes of salinity gradient induced by evaporation at the collector is outlined. Its purpose, likewise than a thermosyphon, is to simplify the transfer of liquid while avoiding the cost and complexity of a conventional pump. However, in this concept, the fluid motion is not obtained from the tendency of a less dense fluid to rise above a denser fluid (natural convection) but rather by taking advantage of the energy released during the spontaneous mixing of the low-concentration (evaporated fraction) solution and the high-concentration (no-evaporated fraction) solution, which have been previously separated into two streams in the evaporator module. Finally, the possibility of driving the thermal osmosis by the strong thermal dependence of the solubility featured by many solutions rather than evaporation is envisaged. One important point in favor of the proposed thermosyphon driven by thermo-osmosis is that makes possible downward heat and mass transfer, i.e., heat and mass transport from the top roofs (where solar collectors are generally placed) to the bottom (inside the homes), and then the use of expensive and voluminous tanks so characteristic of current thermosyphons driven by natural convection is no longer needed.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Sol. Energy Eng. 2018;140(5):051007-051007-10. doi:10.1115/1.4040064.

A solar heating compound parabolic collector (CPC) using air and palm oil as heat carrier fluid is proposed and analyzed within this study via heat transfer and ray tracing simulations. The system is a linear focusing solar system intended to be used for applications across a broad range of industrial sectors for generating medium temperature heat up to 250 °C. The Monte Carlo ray tracing method was used to predict the optical performances of the receiver. We have developed a simplified thermal model to investigate and analyze the thermal performances of the receiver under different conditions. It has been demonstrated that the investigated receiver satisfactorily matches the heat demand by producing low and medium temperature heat with an annual system efficiency of 45%.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Sol. Energy Eng. 2018;140(5):051008-051008-8. doi:10.1115/1.4039988.

Solar-to-thermal energy conversion technologies are an important and increasingly promising segment of our renewable energy technology future. Today, concentrated solar power (CSP) plants provide a method to efficiently store and distribute solar energy. Current industrial solar-to-thermal energy technologies employ selective solar absorber coatings to collect solar radiation, which suffer from low solar-to-thermal efficiencies at high temperatures due to increased thermal emission from selective absorbers. Solar absorbing nanofluids (a heat transfer fluid (HTF) seeded with nanoparticles), which can be volumetrically heated, are one method to improve solar-to-thermal energy conversion at high temperatures. To date, radiative analyses of nanofluids via the radiative transfer equation (RTE) have been conducted for low temperature applications and for flow conditions and geometries that are not representative of the technologies used in the field. In this work, we present the first comprehensive analysis of nanofluids for CSP plants in a parabolic trough configuration. This geometry was chosen because parabolic troughs are the most prevalent CSP technologies. We demonstrate that the solar-to-thermal energy conversion efficiency can be optimized by tuning the nanoparticle volume fraction, the temperature of the nanofluid, and the incident solar concentration. Moreover, we demonstrate that direct solar absorption receivers have a unique advantage over current surface-based solar coatings at large tube diameters. This is because of a nanofluid's tunability, which allows for high solar-to-thermal efficiencies across all tube diameters enabling small pressure drops to pump the HTF at large tube diameters.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Sol. Energy Eng. 2018;140(5):051009-051009-11. doi:10.1115/1.4040076.

The parabolic trough collector (PTC) is one of the most widely deployed concentrating solar power technology in the world. This study aims at improving the operational efficiency of the commercially available LS-2 solar collector by increasing the convective heat transfer coefficient inside the receiver tube. The two main factors affecting this parameter are the properties of the working fluid and the inner geometry of the receiver tube. An investigation was carried out on six different working fluids: pressurized water, supercritical CO2, Therminol VP-1, and the addition of CuO, Fe3O4, and Al2O3 nanoparticles to Therminol VP-1. Furthermore, the influence of a converging-diverging tube with sine geometry is investigated because this geometry increases the heat transfer surface and enhances turbulent flow within the receiver. The results showed that of all the fluids investigated, the Al2O3/Oil nanofluid provides the best improvement of 0.22% to thermal efficiency, while the modified geometry accounted for a 1.13% increase in efficiency. Other parameters investigated include the exergy efficiency, heat transfer coefficient, outlet temperatures, and pressure drop. The analysis and modeling of a parabolic trough receiver are implemented in engineering equation solver (EES).

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Sol. Energy Eng. 2018;140(5):051010-051010-9. doi:10.1115/1.4040104.

A modeling framework to analyze a wind turbine blade subjected to an out-of-plane transformation is presented. The framework combines aerodynamic and mechanical models to support an automated design process. The former combines the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) aerodyn software with a genetic algorithm solver. It defines the theoretical twist angle distribution (TAD) as a function of wind speed. The procedure is repeated for a series of points that form a discrete range of wind speeds. This step establishes the full range of blade transformations. The associated theoretical TAD geometry is subsequently passed to the mechanical model. It creates the TAD geometry in the context of a novel wind turbine blade concept. The blade sections are assumed to be made by additive manufacturing, which enables tunable stiffness. An optimization problem minimizes the difference between the practical and theoretical TAD over the full range of transformations. It does so by selecting the actuator locations and the torsional stiffness ratios of consecutive segments. In the final step, the blade free shape (undeformed position) is found. The model and design support out-of-plane twisting, which can increase energy production and mitigate fatigue loads. The proposed framework is demonstrated through a case study based on energy production. It employs data acquired from the NREL Unsteady Aerodynamics Experiment. A set of blade transformations required to improve the efficiency of a fixed-speed system is examined. The results show up to 3.7% and 2.9% increases in the efficiency at cut-in and rated speeds, respectively.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Sol. Energy Eng. 2018;140(5):051011-051011-9. doi:10.1115/1.4040065.

The eutectic mixture of MgCl2–KCl molten salt is a high temperature heat transfer and thermal storage fluid able to be used at temperatures up to 800 °C in concentrating solar thermal power systems. The molten salt thermophysical properties are reported including vapor pressure, heat capacity, density, viscosity, thermal conductivity, and the corrosion behavior of nickel-based alloys in the molten salt corrosion at high temperatures. Correlations of the measured properties as functions of molten salt temperatures are presented for industrial applications. The test results of tensile strength of two nickel-based alloys exposed in the molten salt at a temperature of 800 °C from 1-week length to 16-week length are reported. It was found that the corrosion and strength loss is rather low when the salt is first processed to remove water and oxygen.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Sol. Energy Eng. 2018;140(5):051012-051012-9. doi:10.1115/1.4039656.

Light pipes are popularly used for transporting outdoor sunlight into deep spaces of the building, and hence, use of artificial lighting could be substantially reduced. Performance prediction of a light pipe is an essential step before its use in buildings, so that energy saving potential of the light pipe could be quantified. This paper deals with experimental validation of three existing semi-empirical models for light pipes with different aspect ratios, installed on a windowless test room, at IIT Delhi, New Delhi. Two new semi-empirical models based on the existing correlations are developed. The new model found to perform better with mean bias error (MBE) and root-mean-squared error (MSE) of 0.076 and 0.01, respectively. The better performing new model is used for the evaluation of hourly internal illuminance by the light pipe in a typical meteorological year (TMY) in New Delhi. From hourly internal illuminance in a typical meteorological year, the energy saving potential and CO2 mitigation potential of light pipe system for the test room are evaluated. Monthly average energy saving potentials of the light pipe-fluorescent tube light system are found to be 50% for continuous dimming control and 38% for three-step on–off control. Results show that the light pipe-fluorescent tube light system, with different lighting controls, could reduce CO2 emissions to 15–50%.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Technical Brief

J. Sol. Energy Eng. 2018;140(5):054501-054501-6. doi:10.1115/1.4040197.

Radiative properties of transparent insulations made of a layer of parallel, small-diameter, thin-walled, visible light transparent pipes placed perpendicularly to the surface of a flat solar absorber are investigated theoretically. A formula for the radiation heat losses through the insulation is derived based on two main assumptions: the system is in steady-state and the fourth power of the temperature along each pipe is linear. Arguments in favor of the assumptions are given. The formula, combined with standard formulas for the conductive heat flux, enables prediction that a 10 cm thick transparent insulation under insolation of 1000 W/m2, at ambient temperature 20 °C, could theoretically raise the absorber temperature to 429 °C and produce 410 W mechanical power under the ideal Carnot cycle. In order to reach that high energy conversion efficiency, the insulation pipes should have diameter less than 0.5 mm and walls about 5 μm thick, which may be technologically challenging.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Sol. Energy Eng. 2018;140(5):054502-054502-8. doi:10.1115/1.4040196.

The 2012 European energy efficiency directive supported the development of cogeneration combined heat and power (CHP) and district heating and cooling (DHC) networks, stressing the benefits of a more efficient energy supply, the exploitation of recovered heat, and renewable resources, in terms of fuel consumption and avoided costs/emissions. Policy decisions play a crucial role: technical and environmental feasibility of CHP is clear and well demonstrated, whereas economic issues (fuel prices, incentives, etc.) may influence its actual application. In this framework, the introduction of low-carbon technologies and the exploitation of renewable energies are profitable interventions to be applied on existing plants. This work focuses on a small CHP plant, installed in the 90 s and located within a research facility in Italy, designed to supply electricity and heat/cool through a district network. On the basis of monitored consumption of electricity, heating, and cooling, energy fluxes have been analyzed and an assessment was performed to get a management profile enhancing both operational and economic parameters. The integration of renewable energies, i.e., solar-powered systems for supporting the existing devices, has been evaluated, thus resulting in a hybrid trigeneration plant. Results demonstrate how the useful synergy between CHP and DHC can not only be profitable from the economic point of view, but it can also create conditions to considerably boost the integral deployment of primary energy sources, improving fuel diversity and then facing the challenge of climate change toward sustainable energy networks in the future.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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