Operational performance of a novel fast-responsive heat storage/exchanging unit (HSEU) for solar heating systems

Fan, Yi, Zhao, Xudong, Li, Jing, Cheng, Yuanda, Badiei, Ali orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-2103-2955, Zhou, Jinzhi, Yu, Min, Li, Guiqiang, Du, Zhenyu et al (2020) Operational performance of a novel fast-responsive heat storage/exchanging unit (HSEU) for solar heating systems. Renewable Energy, 151 . pp. 137-151. ISSN 0960-1481

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.renene.2019.11.007


In order for a solar heating system to provide heat immediately after sunrise, a fast response is needed to the heat demand of a serviced space. The majority of existing solar heating systems have a slow response time due to the large volume of water stored in the heat storage/exchanger unit (HSEU). This leads to a slow heat delivery cycle, which results in discomfort for the occupants and thus creates a huge barrier to the wide deployment of solar heating systems. To overcome this critical issue, a novel interactive heat storage/exchanging unit (HSEU) employing a double-tank configuration was developed. Unlike conventional HSEUs, which have a single tank acting as the heat storage and exchanging unit, the new HSEU is comprised of a small tank for heat exchange combined with a large tank for heat storage. The small tank enables fast transfer of solar heat to the heating loop fluid without having to heat up the large volume of water in the entire HSEU tank, whilst the large tank is used to store and exchange heat between itself and the small tank using a temperature-oriented control mechanism. To test the proposed design, the heat transfer between the first (solar loop) and second (heating loop) fluids, the heat and mass transfer between the small and large tank and the associated operational strategy were investigated experimentally and theoretically for comparison. A conventional single tank HSEU requires around 120 min to deliver heat to a served space, whilst the new interactive double-tank HSEU can provide heat to the served space in around 20 min, thus creating a heating system which can respond significantly faster than traditional systems. The investigation of the heat exchange effect between the solar and heating loop fluids showed that the new HSEU achieved a convective heat transfer coefficient of as high as 391 W/m2·K, which is 551% higher than that of a conventional tank. As a result, the solar thermal efficiency of the solar panel-array in the new HSEU based system was increased by 7.5% compared to conventional HSEU based systems.

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