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Zhang X.,De Montfort University | Zhao X.,De Montfort University | Xu J.,Shanghai Pacific Energy Center | Yu X.,Shanghai Solar Energy Research Center
International Journal of Low-Carbon Technologies | Year: 2013

This article presented a theoretical analysis of the heat transfer limits associated with a gravitational loop heat pipe (LHP), which involves the utilization of an innovative liquid feeding/distributing and vapour/liquid-separating structure. The mathematical equations governing the heat transport capacity were applied to simulate several commonly known heat transfer limits of the pipe, namely, viscous, sonic, entrainment, capillary, boiling and liquid filling mass limits. This will allow the determination of the actual figure of the limitation and analyses of the factors effecting the limits, including the loop operational temperature, wick type, evaporator diameter/length, evaporator inclination angle, vapour column diameter in the three-way fitting, liquid filling mass and evaporator-to-condenser height difference. During the study, the heat-transfer limits associated with the three-way fitting for liquid feeding/distribution and vapour/liquid separation were given particular attention. The results derived from the analytical model indicated that the compound screen mesh wick can achieve better thermal performance over the sintered powder and open rectangular groove wicks. It was also found that the heat transport capacity of such LHP operation is positively proportional to the operational temperature, evaporator diameter, evaporator inclination angle, vapour column diameter within the three-way fitting, liquid filling mass and evaporator-to-condenser height difference, and in a reciprocal order to the evaporator length. With the specified loop configuration and operational conditions, the LHP can achieve a high heat transport capacity of around 900 W. Overall, the work presented in this article provided an approach to determine the heat transfer limitations for such a specific LHP operation that will be of practical use for the associated system design and performance evaluation. © The Author 2012. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.


Zhang X.,University of Hull | Zhao X.,University of Hull | Shen J.,University of Hull | Hu X.,University of Oxford | And 2 more authors.
Solar Energy | Year: 2013

In this paper, a novel solar photovoltaic/loop-heat-pipe (PV/LHP) module-based heat pump system was designed and fabricated for both electricity and hot water generation. A coated aluminium-alloy (Al-alloy) sheet was applied as the baseboard of PV cells for enhanced heat dissipation to the surroundings, which was characterised by a series of laboratory-controlled conditions over the conventional Tedlar-Polyester-Tedlar (TPT) baseboard. The whole prototype system was subsequently evaluated in outdoor weather conditions throughout a consecutive period for about one week. Impact of several external parameters to the PV panel with different baseboards was discussed and the results showed that weaker incident radiation, lower air temperature, higher wind speed, and ground mounting solution, were propitious to the PV electrical performance. Given the specific indoor testing conditions, temperature of the Al-alloy based PV cells was observed at about 62.4. °C, which was 5.2. °C lower than that of the TPT based PV cells, and its corresponding PV efficiency was about 9.18%, nearly 0.26% higher than the TPT based type. During the outdoor testing, the mean daily electrical, thermal and overall energetic and exergetic efficiencies of the PV/LHP module were measured at 9.13%, 39.25%, 48.37% and 15.02% respectively. The basic-thermal system performance coefficient (COPth) was found at 5.51 and the advanced system performance coefficient (COPPV/T) was nearly 8.71. A simple comparison was also conducted between the PV/LHP based heat-pump system and those conventional solar/air energy systems, which indicated that this advanced system harvests larger amount of solar energy and therefore enables enhanced solar efficiency and system performance. Basic analysis into the economic and environmental benefits of this prototype system further demonstrated such technology will be competitive in the future energy supply industry with a payback period of 16 (9) years and a life-cycle carbon reduction of 12.06 (2.94) tons in Shanghai (London). © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Zhang X.,University of Hull | Zhao X.,University of Hull | Shen J.,University of Hull | Xu J.,Shanghai Pacific Energy Center | Yu X.,Shanghai Solar Energy Research Center
Applied Energy | Year: 2014

Objective of the paper is to present an investigation into the dynamic performance of a novel solar photovoltaic/loop-heat-pipe (PV/LHP) heat pump system for potential use in space heating or hot water generation. The methods used include theoretical computer simulation, experimental verification, analysis and comparison. The fundamental equations governing the transient processes of solar transmission, heat transfer, fluid flow and photovoltaic (PV) power generation were appropriately integrated to address the energy balances occurring in different parts of the system, e.g., glazing cover, PV cells, fin sheet, loop heat pipe, heat pump cycle and water tank. A dedicated computer model was developed to resolve the above grouping equations and consequently predict the system's dynamic performance. An experimental rig was constructed and operated under the real weather conditions for over one week in Shanghai to evaluate the system living performance, which was undertaken by measurement of various operational parameters, e.g., solar radiation, photovoltaic power generation, temperatures and heat pump compressor consumption. On the basis of the first- (energetic) and second- (exergetic) thermodynamic laws, an overall evaluation approach was proposed and applied to conduct both quantitative and qualitative analysis of the PV/LHP module's efficiency, which involved use of the basic thermal performance coefficient (COPth) and the advanced performance coefficient (COPPV/T) of such a system. Moreover, a simple comparison between the PV/LHP heat-pump system and conventional solar/air energy systems was conducted. The research results indicated that under the testing outdoor conditions, the mean daily electrical, thermal and overall energetic and exergetic efficiencies of the PV/LHP module were 9.13%, 39.25%, 48.37% and 15.02% respectively, and the average values of COPth and COPPV/T were 5.51 and 8.71. The PV/LHP module was found to achieve 3-5% higher solar exergetic efficiency than standard PV systems and about 7% higher overall solar energetic efficiency than the independent solar collector. Compared to the conventional solar/air heat pump systems, the PV/LHP heat pump system could achieve a COP figure that is around 1.5-4 times that for the conventional systems. It is concluded that the computer model is able to achieve a reasonable accuracy in predicting the system's dynamic performance. The PV/LHP heat pump system is able to harvest significant amount of solar heat and electricity, thus enabling achieving enhanced solar thermal and electrical efficiencies. All these indicate a positive implication that the proposed system has potential to be developed into a high performance PV/T technology that can contribute to significant fossil fuel energy saving and carbon emission. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Zhang X.,University of Hull | Shen J.,University of Hull | Xu P.,University of Hull | Xu P.,Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture | And 2 more authors.
Applied Energy | Year: 2014

This paper aimed to study the socio-economic performance of a novel solar photovoltaic/loop-heat-pipe (PV/LHP) heat pump water heating system for application in three different climatic regions, namely, cold area represented by London, warm area represented by Shanghai, and hot (subtropical) area represented by Hong Kong. This study involved prediction of the annual fossil-fuel energy saving, investment return period and carbon emission reduction of the new system against the traditional gas-fired and electrical boilers based water heating systems. An established dynamic model developed by the authors was utilised to predict the system's energy performance throughout a year in the three climatic regions. A life-cycle analytical model was further developed to analyse the economic and environmental benefits of the new system relative to the traditional systems. Analyses of the modelling results drew out several conclusive remarks: (1) the system could achieve the highest energy efficiency when operating at the hot (subtropical) climatic region (represented by Hong Kong), enabling the heat output of as high as 922kWh/m2yr and water temperature of above 45°C, while the grid power input is only 59kWh/m2yr; (2) the system is worth for investment when operating at the high energy charging tariff area (represented by London), with the cost payback periods of 8 and 5years relative to the traditional gas-fired and electrical boilers based systems, respectively; (3) the system could obtain the most promising environmental benefits when operating in Shanghai where the energy quality (embodied carbon volume of per kWh energy) is relatively poor, enabling reduction in life-cycle carbon emissions of around 4.08tons/m2 and 17.87tons/m2 respectively, relative to the gas-fired and electrical boilers. Answer to such a question on which area is most suitable for the system application is highly dependent upon the priority order among the three dominating factors: (1) energy efficiency, (2) economic revenue, and (3) environmental benefit, which may vary with the users, local concerns and policy influence, etc. The research results will be able to assist in decision making in implementation of the new PV/thermal technology and analyses of the associated economic and environmental benefits, thus contributing to realisation of the regional and global targets on fossil fuel energy saving and environmental sustainability. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.


Zhang X.,De Montfort University | Zhao X.,De Montfort University | Smith S.,De Montfort University | Xu J.,Shanghai Pacific Energy Center | Yu X.,Shanghai Solar Energy Research Center
Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews | Year: 2012

In this paper, the global market potential of solar thermal, photovoltaic (PV) and combined photovoltaic/thermal (PV/T) technologies in current time and near future was discussed. The concept of the PV/T and the theory behind the PV/T operation were briefly introduced, and standards for evaluating technical, economic and environmental performance of the PV/T systems were addressed. A comprehensive literature review into R&D works and practical application of the PV/T technology was illustrated and the review results were critically analysed in terms of PV/T type and research methodology used. The major features, current status, research focuses and existing difficulties/barriers related to the various types of PV/T were identified. The research methods, including theoretical analyses and computer simulation, experimental and combined experimental/theoretical investigation, demonstration and feasibility study, as well as economic and environmental analyses, applied into the PV/T technology were individually discussed, and the achievement and problems remaining in each research method category were described. Finally, opportunities for further work to carry on PV/T study were identified. The review research indicated that air/water-based PV/T systems are the commonly used technologies but their thermal removal effectiveness is lower. Refrigerant/heat-pipe-based PV/Ts, although still in research/laboratory stage, could achieve much higher solar conversion efficiencies over the air/water-based systems. However, these systems were found a few technical challenges in practice which require further resolutions. The review research suggested that further works could be undertaken to (1) develop new feasible, economic and energy efficient PV/T systems; (2) optimise the structural/geometrical configurations of the existing PV/T systems; (3) study long term dynamic performance of the PV/T systems; (4) demonstrate the PV/T systems in real buildings and conduct the feasibility study; and (5) carry on advanced economic and environmental analyses. This review research helps finding the questions remaining in PV/T technology, identify new research topics/directions to further improve the performance of the PV/T, remove the barriers in PV/T practical application, establish the standards/regulations related to PV/T design and installation, and promote its market penetration throughout the world. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Zhang X.,De Montfort University | Zhao X.,De Montfort University | Xu J.,Shanghai Pacific Energy Center | Yu X.,Shanghai Solar Energy Research Center
Applied Energy | Year: 2013

This paper introduced the concept, potential application and benefits relating to a novel solar photovoltaic/loop-heat-pipe (PV/LHP) heat pump system for hot water generation. On this basis, the paper reported the process and results of characterizing the performance of such a system, which was undertaken through dedicated thermo-fluid and energy balance analyses, computer model development and operation, and experimental verification and modification. The fundamental heat transfer, fluid flow and photovoltaic governing equations were applied to characterize the energy conversion and transfer processes occurring in each part and whole system layout; while the energy balance approach was utilized to enable inter-connection and resolution of the grouped equations. As a result, a dedicated computer model was developed and used to calculate the operational parameters, optimise the geometrical configurations and sizes, and recommend the appropriate operational condition relating to the system. Further, an experimental rig was constructed and utilized to acquire the relevant measurement data that thus enabled the parallel comparison between the simulation and experiment. It is concluded that the testing and modelling results are in good agreement, indicating that the model has the reasonable accuracy in predicting the system's performance. Under the given experimental conditions, the electrical, thermal and overall efficiency of the PV/LHP module were around 10%, 40% and 50% respectively; whilst the system's overall performance coefficient (COPPV/T) was 8.7. Impact of the operational parameters (i.e. solar radiation, air temperature, air velocity, heat-pump's evaporation temperature, glazing covers, and number of the absorbing heat pipes) to the performance of the system (in terms of efficiencies of the PV/LHP module and the system's overall performance coefficient COPPV/T) was investigated individually. The results indicated that lower solar radiation, lower air temperature, higher air velocity and smaller cover number led to enhanced electrical efficiency but reduced thermal efficiency of the module; whereas lower heat-pump's evaporation temperature and larger number of heat absorbing pipes gave rise to both thermal and electrical efficiencies of the module. The research results would assist in developing a high efficient solar (space or hot water) heating system and thus contribute to realisation of the energy saving and associated carbon emission targets set for buildings globally. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

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