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Design, simulation, and analysis of domestic solar water heating systems in Phoenix, Arizona

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Research was conducted to quantify the energy and cost savings of two different domestic solar water heating systems compared to an all-electric water heater for a four-person household in Phoenix, Arizona. The knowledge gained from this research will enable utilities

Research was conducted to quantify the energy and cost savings of two different domestic solar water heating systems compared to an all-electric water heater for a four-person household in Phoenix, Arizona. The knowledge gained from this research will enable utilities to better align incentives and consumers to make more informed decisions prior to purchasing a solar water heater. Daily energy and temperature data were collected in a controlled, closed environment lab. Three mathematical models were designed in TRNSYS 17, a transient system simulation tool. The data from the lab were used to validate the TRNSYS models, and the TRNSYS results were used to project annual cost and energy savings for the solar water heaters. The projected energy savings for a four-person household in Phoenix, Arizona are 80% when using the SunEarth® system with an insulated and glazed flat-plate collector, and 49% when using the FAFCO® system with unglazed, non-insulated flat-plate collectors. Utilizing all available federal, state, and utility incentives, a consumer could expect to recoup his or her investment after the fifth year if purchasing a SunEarth® system, and after the eighth year if purchasing a FAFCO® system. Over the 20-year analysis period, a consumer could expect to save $2,519 with the SunEarth® system, and $971 with the FAFCO® system.

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2012

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Development of a concentrating solar water heater with phase change energy storage

Description

The complicated, unpredictable, and often chaotic hot water usage pattern of typical households severely limits the effectiveness and efficiency of traditional solar hot water heater systems. Similar to large scale concentrating solar power plants, the use of thermal energy storage

The complicated, unpredictable, and often chaotic hot water usage pattern of typical households severely limits the effectiveness and efficiency of traditional solar hot water heater systems. Similar to large scale concentrating solar power plants, the use of thermal energy storage techniques to store collected solar energy as latent heat has the potential to improve the efficiency of solar hot water systems. Rather than being used to produce steam to generate electricity, the stored thermal energy would be used to heat water on-demand well after the sun sets. The scope of this thesis was to design, analyze, build, and test a proof of concept prototype for an on-demand solar water heater for residential use with latent heat thermal energy storage. The proof of concept system will be used for future research and can be quickly reconfigured making it ideal for use as a test bed. This thesis outlines the analysis, design, and testing processes used to model, build, and evaluate the performance of the prototype system.

The prototype system developed to complete this thesis was designed using systems engineering principles and consists of several main subsystems. These subsystems include a parabolic trough concentrating solar collector, a phase change material reservoir including heat exchangers, a heat transfer fluid reservoir, and a plumbing system. The system functions by absorbing solar thermal energy in a heat transfer fluid using the solar collector and transferring the absorbed thermal energy to the phase change material for storage. The system was analyzed using a mathematical model created in MATLAB and experimental testing was used to verify that the system functioned as designed. The mathematical model was designed to be adaptable for evaluating different system configurations for future research. The results of the analysis as well as the experimental tests conducted, verify that the proof of concept system is functional and capable of producing hot water using stored thermal energy. This will allow the system to function as a test bed for future research and long-term performance testing to evaluate changes in the performance of the phase change material over time. With additional refinement the prototype system has the potential to be developed into a commercially viable product for use in residential homes.

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2015