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DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION OF A  SOLAR WATER HEATER

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DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION OF A  SOLAR WATER HEATER

 

 

ABSTRACT

The technology of solar water heating is an emerging field in Nigeria. Due to the epileptic power supply in Nigeria, other energy sources are being sought. This project involves the design and fabrication of a portable solar water heater. The design of the solar water heater was done using relevant equations to size the major components of the system. The materials for the components were then selected with consideration to the design calculations, machinability, market availability and cost of the materials. The system was then constructed using the selected materials. The system consists of a buffer tank, an insulated storage tank of 36 litres capacity, a flat-plate collector with a single layer of glass on top, and a flow channel arranged in a serpentine manner. The thermosyphon principle was applied to the system and an average flow rate of 0.15 litres /min was recorded. The system was tested for six days, the first three days of testing were during the late raining season and the last three days within the dry season. From the first three days of testing during the late raining season, the highest outlet temperature recorded was 650C. For the last three days of testing during the dry season, the highest outlet temperature recorded was 79.3 0C. This difference clearly shows that the system performs better during the dry season when the irradiance levels are higher. The highest irradiance recorded was 940 W/m2 on the sixth day of testing. The highest efficiency recorded from the system was 68.19% on the fourth day of testing.

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

 

1.1 Background

The world relies heavily on fossil fuels for most of its energy demands, and this has caused a lot of harm to the Earth. The increase of green-house gas levels in the atmosphere is largely due to the combustion of fossil fuels as a source of energy. This has caused global warming which has led to climate change, floods, forest fires, rising sea levels and the melting of glaciers. These are just some consequences of the over-reliance on fossil fuels for our energy demands. Solar energy provides an alternative and environmentally friendly energy source to the fossil fuels used for our energy needs. Over the last few decades, solar energy systems have gained more recognition because they can provide energy at a low long-term cost and minimal environmental damage. Researchers have developed several techniques for harnessing solar energy, these techniques include applications for space heating, water heating, electricity generation and many others.

 

Solar energy is generated by the fusion reaction of hydrogen atoms in the sun. This fusion reaction results in the release of high-energy particles called gamma rays. Gamma rays are transmitted as electromagnetic radiation to the Earth, which is at about 150 million kilometres from the sun. Electromagnetic radiation comes in three forms: infrared rays, visible light, and ultraviolet rays. Solar energy reaching the Earth’s surface can be harnessed directly by using photovoltaics (solar cells) and solar concentrators. Photovoltaics are used for electricity generation, while solar concentrators are used as a source of thermal energy. The utilization of solar energy collectors (concentrators) to transform radiation into heat energy is the basis of the solar water heating technology. A simple solar water heater consists of a collector, a tank, and the flow channel through which the working fluid is transported.

 

 

 

 

Records show the solar water heater (SWH) was first invented in the Roman empire around 200 B.C.E (Gong & Sumathy, 2016). The Romans had a simple system, they used the solar heating concept to heat their public baths to enable a reduction in using coal and the labour required. These systems were not self-sufficient, but every innovative idea starts somewhere, and the solar water heating concept began here. After the Roman empire collapsed, humans forgot the concept of using the sun to heat water for over a millennium. It was in the late 18th century (1767) that a Swiss natural scientist, De Saussure, re-introduced the concept of using solar energy for water heating (Gong & Sumathy, 2016). He built an insulated box with two glass panes covering the surface, the bottom of the box was painted black to increase solar radiation absorption. This is the prototype for all solar water heaters. De Saussure found that whenever the insulated box was exposed to solar radiation, the insides reached temperatures greater than water’s boiling point. He had shown the green-house effect for the first time by doing this (Perlin, 2008). De Saussure hoped researchers would find his innovative device useful, but it took over a century for this to happen.

 

In 1891, Clarence Kemp, an American manufacturer, patented the world’s first commercial SWH called Climax (Gong & Sumathy, 2016). It was a simple system in which he put the black coated metal tank in an insulated box which had comparable designs to that of De Saussure’s. This metal tank served as both the solar energy collector and storage. The major issue with

Kemp’s invention was that the water was stored and heated in the same tank. Hence, when exposed at night and in poor weather, the water sometimes cooled down to an undesired temperature. William J. Bailey solved this drawback in 1909 by developing a system which had the collector and the tank separate from each other. The solar collector he built comprised fluid tubes connected to a black-coated metallic plate in a box with a transparent surface. The storage tank for the system was placed above the collector. It was the first system in history that transported the working fluid using the thermosyphon principle. This principle made it possible for water to circulate without the use of a mechanical pump. William Bailey’s company was called the Day and Night SWH Company, emphasizing the advantage his solar water heating system had over that of Clarence Kemp’s.  By the 1920s, the discovery of natural gas and oil in southern California led to the emergence of gas water heaters. This crippled the solar water heating industry. Reductions in electricity cost and the copper scarcity during the second world war replaced whatever was left of the solar industry.

In the 1970s, about half a century later, the SWH got global attention again, revitalized by the OPEC embargo which caused a major oil crisis and a hike in oil prices. Ever since, the solar water heating industry has expanded all over the world. Growing concerns about the planet’s increasing carbon emissions, global warming and climate change have flared up interest in the solar water heating industry. As of 2018, the SWH market was valued at over a billion dollars, the yearly installation is expected to surpass three million units by 2025 (Gupta, 2019).

 

1.2 Problem Statement

Considering the epileptic nature of electric power supply in Nigeria, the reliance on solar applications for water heating will lead to better reliability of service for hot water needs and will have minimal negative impact on the environment. This would reduce the reliance on electric heaters, which have higher operational costs and depend on fossil fuels as a primary energy source.

 

1.3 Motivation for the Study

A lot of research has gone into the solar energy field over the past few decades. This is mostly because of the increased world-wide acknowledgement of the environmental effects that the use of fossil fuel as an energy source comes with. This current study would result in the design and construction of a portable solar water heating system which would provide hot water. The use of locally sourced materials would reduce the financial resources required compared to the importation of these materials. With Nigeria going through a recession and a pandemic which has further impacted the nation’s economy, the availability of locally made solar water heating systems would help boost the local economy and curb the rate of importation.

 

1.4 Scope of the Study

This study is limited to the design and construction of a portable flat-plate solar water heating system operating on the thermosyphon principle. The application of the thermosyphon principle eliminates the need for an electric pump, thereby reducing the cost of the SWH. The material resources required for the construction of a flat-plate collector operating on the thermosyphon principle are readily available in Nigeria.

 

1.5 Aim and Objectives

The aim of this project is to design and construct a portable solar water heater. The objectives are:

  1. To design a portable solar water heater .
  2. To construct the portable solar water heater.
  3. To carry out the performance evaluation of the constructed solar water heater.
  4. To obtain a baseline cost of a locally built solar water heater.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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