Journal article

A systematic parametric study and feasibility assessment of solar-assisted single-effect, double-effect, and triple-effect absorption chillers for heating and cooling applications

19 Feb 2016

The present work investigates the feasibility of solar heating and cooling (SHC) absorption systems based on combining three types of LiBr-H2O absorption chillers (single-, double-, and triple-effect) with common solar thermal collectors available on the market. A single-effect chiller is coupled with evacuated tube collectors (ETCs) – SHC1. A double-effect chiller is integrated with parabolic trough collectors (PTCs), linear Fresnel micro-concentrating collectors (MCTs) and evacuated flat plate collectors (EFPCs) respectively – SHC2, SHC3, and SHC4. PTCs are employed to provide high-temperature heat to a triple-effect absorption chiller (SHC5). Although triple-effect chillers have been around for a while, this paper represents the first system-level analysis of these chillers coupled with high-temperature solar concentrating collectors for air-conditioning applications. A simulation model for each configuration is developed in a transient system simulation environment (TRNSYS 17). Furthermore, a unique, comprehensive perspective is given by investigating the impact of characteristic solar beam radiation to global radiation ratios on the techno-economic performance of the proposed SHC plants for a wide variety of climatic regions worldwide. The results of parametric study suggest that a storage volume of around 70 L/m2 is a good choice for SHC1, while 40–50 L/m2 storage capacity is sufficient for the other configurations (SHC2 to SHC5). The simulation results reveal that when the fraction of direct normal irradiance (DNI) is less than 50%, SHC2, SHC3, and SHC5 require larger collector area compared to SHC1, showing there is no advantage in using concentrating collector powered multi-effect chillers over solar single-effect chillers in climates with low DNI level. However, in climates with DNI fractions above 60%, the smallest solar field is achieved by SHC5, followed by SHC2. SHC4, which benefits from both relatively high COP of double-effect chiller and the diffuse component in the solar field, results in the most reasonable trade-off between energetic and economic performance of the system in a wide range of climatic conditions.

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