The ability to shift the photovoltaic (PV) power curve and make the energy accessible during peak hours can be accomplished through pairing solar PV with energy storage technologies. A prototype hybrid air conditioning system (HACS), built under supervision of project head Patrick Phelan, consists of PV modules running a DC compressor that operates a conventional HVAC system paired with a second evaporator submerged within a thermal storage tank. The thermal storage is a 0.284m3 or 75 gallon freezer filled with Cryogel balls, submerged in a weak glycol solution. It is paired with its own separate air handler, circulating the glycol solution. The refrigerant flow is controlled by solenoid valves that are electrically connected to a high and low temperature thermostat. During daylight hours, the PV modules run the DC compressor. The refrigerant flow is directed to the conventional HVAC air handler when cooling is needed. Once the desired room temperature is met, refrigerant flow is diverted to the thermal storage, storing excess PV power. During peak energy demand hours, the system uses only small amounts of grid power to pump the glycol solution through the air handler (note the compressor is off), allowing for money and energy savings. The conventional HVAC unit can be scaled down, since during times of large cooling demands the glycol air handler can be operated in parallel with the conventional HVAC unit. Four major test scenarios were drawn up in order to fully comprehend the performance characteristics of the HACS. Upon initial running of the system, ice was produced and the thermal storage was charged. A simple test run consisting of discharging the thermal storage, initially ~¼ frozen, was performed. The glycol air handler ran for 6 hours and the initial cooling power was 4.5 kW. This initial test was significant, since greater than 3.5 kW of cooling power was produced for 3 hours, thus demonstrating the concept of energy storage and recovery.
- Experimental demonstration of photovoltaic powered solar cooling with ice storage