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Abstract

In the research presented in this paper the thermal performance of a solar water heater combined with a heat pump is studied. A solar collector was modified from corrugated metal roofing with a copper tube attached beneath. The performance of the solar water heater was tested, and models for the collector efficiency and storage tank were developed and used for the evaluation of their performance when combined with a heat pump system. The performance of the combined solar water heater and heat pump was investigated using a simulation program. In this analysis, a model for a heat pump using the refrigerant mixture R22/R124/R152a was selected. From the simulation program, the results show that the highest performance occurred at a mass fraction of R22 = 20%, R124 = 57% and R152a = 23%, a compressor speed of 20 rps, and mass flow rate of refrigerant at 0.01 kg/s. The coefficient of performance (COP) of this system is between 2.5 and 5.0. Moreover, economic analysis shows that the suitable mass of hot water in the storage tank is 400 kg and that the payback period for this system is 2.3 years.

Nomenclature A area (m2) CI investment cost (Baht) CO&M operation and maintenance cost (Baht/year) Cp specific heat (kJ/kg K) Cs cost saving (Baht/year) Ec energy consumption (kWh) Es energy saving compared to conventional electric heater (%) FR heat removal factor h enthalpy (kJ/kg)

It solar radiation (W/m2) K parameter LMTD log mean temperature difference mass flow rate (kg/s) M molecular weight Ms mass of water in storage tank (kg) n polytropic index N parameter Ncp speed of compressor (rps) P pressure (kPa) PB pay-back period (year) Q heat transfer rate (kW) R gas constant (kJ/kgK) T temperature (C) t time (s) U overall heat transfer coefficient (kW/m2K) UL overall heat loss coefficient (kW/m2K) Vs volume of water in storage tank (L) x mass fraction

Greek symbol efficiency optical efficiency of collector Subscript a air c collector cd condenser cp compressor ev evaporator ex expansion valve i inlet o outlet r refrigerant s storage tank w water

1. Introduction
Currently, the use of solar water heaters in households is becoming more prevalent due to their low electrical cost as compared to conventional electric heaters. There are many types of solar collectors used with this application, such as a flat plate, thermosyphon, and evacuated tube, and the performance of these solar collectors is examined in many research papers [1], [2], [3], [4] and [5]. Kalogirou [6] reviewed typical applications of various types of collectors to show the extent of their applicability. Hot water production from conventional solar

collectors, however, results in low performance because of the length of time needed to generate hot water. To overcome this problem, a heat pump system is selected for increasing the temperature of hot water along with the solar collector. Although this system uses electrical energy, it consumes less energy than that of a conventional electric heater. This work deals with the application of a solar water heater combined with a heat pump, such as in the research of Ito et al. [7], who studied the thermal performance of a heat pump using a direct expansion solar collector. Huang et al. [8] performed long-term testing of a solar water heater combined with a heat pump operating over more than 20,000 h and found that its electrical energy price was approximately 0.019 kW-h per one liter of hot water at 57 C. Hawlader et al. [9] reported the performance of a solar-assisted heat pump water heating system. In this work, the unglazed, flat plate solar collector acts as an evaporator for the refrigerant R134a. The results show that the COP of this system was around 49 and that the collector efficiency varied between 40% and 75% at a 3050 C water temperature in the condenser tank. A solar water heater combined with a heat pump is currently quite expensive, so this study proposes a method for reducing the investment cost and increasing heat pump performance. The investment cost of a solar collector is reduced by using an unglazed, flat plate solar collector modified from corrugated metal roofing with a copper tube attached beneath. The price of this kind of a solar collector is approximately four times lower than that of the conventional flat plate [10]. To improve performance, a non-azeotropic refrigerant mixture (NARM) is selected as a working fluid in the heat pump. When using NARM, the temperature of the refrigerant in the evaporator and condenser does not constantly result from the difference in the boiling point of each refrigerant component. This phenomenon can be explained by the Lorenz cycle [11]. Many works have reported an increase in heat pump performance when using NARM. For example, He et al. [12] reported that the COP of a heat pump using a R22/R142b refrigerant blend was higher than those of R22 and R142b by approximately 3.5%. Troxel and Braven [13]investigated the COP of a heat pump using R22/R11 and R22/R114 refrigerant mixtures and found that the COP of the heat pump was increased by 26% for R22/R11 and 34% for R22/R114. Kiatsiriroat and Na Thalang [14] recommended a suitable mass fraction of R22 in the refrigerant blend R22/R124/R152a of approximately 2040%. For an air-conditioning system. This result agreed well with the report of Kiatsiriroat and Euakit [15] that showed the highest COP occurred when using R22 = 20%, R124 = 57%, and R152a = 23% for an automobile air-conditioning system. The main objective of this work was to study the performance of a solar water heater modified from corrugated metal roofing integrated with a heat pump using a refrigerant mixture. The result could be applied to the use of solar water heaters for households.

2. Experimental set-up

This research was divided into two parts. In the first part, the performance of a solar collector modified from corrugated metal roofing was investigated. A schematic of a solar collector with a hot water tank is shown inFig. 1. In this system, a centrifugal pump was used to circulate the water between a storage tank and a collector, where water absorbs heat from the collector and rejects heat to a storage tank. The area of the collector was 4 m2, as shown in the cross-section of Fig. 2. In this apparatus, 33 copper tubes were attached beneath the metal sheet oriented in the parallel direction. Each copper tube had a 1.28 cm diameter and was 2 m long, and the upper and the lower ends of each tube were connected with the upper and the lower header, respectively. Notice that this collector is an unglazed, flat plate solar collector modified by painting the external surface black and including the installation of a 25.4 mm insulator beneath.

Fig. 1. Schematic of the experimental set-up for a solar hot water system.

Fig. 2. Cross-section of an unglazed, flat plate solar collector modified from corrugated metal roofing.

In the experiment, the volume of water in the storage tank was varied between 100 and 300 L. The mass flow rate of water was between 6 and 12 L/min, as measured by a flow meter having 0.01 L/min accuracy. The storage tank and piping were well insulated against heat loss. The ambient temperature, the temperature of water in the storage tank, and the inlet/outlet temperatures of water in the solar collector and the storage tank were measured by K-type thermocouples having

0.1 C accuracy. The solar radiation on the collector surface was measured by a 1 W/m2 accuracy pyranometer. The second part of this work studied the performance of a solar-assisted heat pump by using a simulation program of a solar-assisted heat pump shown schematically in Fig. 3. The water circulating system was used for carrying heat from a solar collector to an evaporator and from a condenser to a storage tank. The heat pump model used in this work is the Euakit model [11]. This heat pump used an R22/R124/R152a refrigerant blend as a working fluid. This kind of refrigerant, a nonazeotropic refrigerant mixture, is an alternative refrigerant to R12. The performance of the solarassisted heat pump was investigated under various conditions to determine a suitable size of the solar collector for this kind of equipment.

Fig. 3. Schematic diagram of the experimental set-up for a solar-assisted heat pump system.

3. Performance of a solar water heater


Fig. 4 shows the temperature of hot water in the storage tank at various water volumes. The mass flow rate of water was kept constant at 0.2 kg/s, the average solar radiation was 676 W/m2, and the water volume was between 100 and 300 L. The results show that the higher water volume exhibited lower water temperature. Notice that the system could produce hot water at approximately 50 C within 6 h (from 9 AM to 3 PM).

Fig. 4. Effect of the storage tanks water volume on the temperature of hot water.

Fig. 5 shows the effect of mass flow rate of water on the water temperature in the storage tank. It was found that the mass flow rate of water had no effect on the water temperature in this case.

Fig. 5. Effect of the mass flow rate of water on the temperature of hot water.

The thermal performance of the solar collector was investigated, and the efficiency of the collector is shown in Fig. 6. Note that the efficiency of the collector (c) is defined as (1)

where Qu is the useful heat, It is the solar radiation on the surface of the collector, and Ac is the area of the collector. The useful heat from the collector can be calculated from (2)

Qu=FR()ItAc-FRULAc(Twc,i-Ta),
where FR() is the product of the heat removal factor and the optical efficiency of a collector, FRUL is the product of the heat removal factor and the overall heat loss coefficient of a collector, Twci is the inlet temperature of water into the collector, and Ta is the ambient temperature. Therefore, the solar collector efficiency can be calculated as (3)

From the experiment, it was found that the solar collector efficiency was (4)

Notice that the inlet temperature of water was 2550 C and that the average solar radiation on the collector surface was 676 W/m2. A comparison to previous work, such as that of Taesamon [16], who tested the efficiency of flat plate solar collector with glass cover, revealed that FR() and FRUL of the collector presented here were lower and higher than the previous work, respectively (Taesamon [16]:FR() = 0.8012 and FRUL = 10.03). This means that the performance for heat absorption from solar radiation is lower than that of the normal flat plate collector, while the heat loss from the collector is very high compared to the normal flat plate collector. These results come from a collector with no glass cover, low absorptivity of the original color, and high heat loss.

Fig. 6. Efficiency of a solar collector.

A model for predicting the temperature of water in the storage tank was also developed in this work; the water temperature can be evaluated from (5)

where Ms is the mass of water in the storage tank, Cpw is the specific heat of water, Ts is the temperature of water in the storage tank, t is time, and (UA)L is the overall coefficient of heat loss from the storage tank. It should be noted from the preliminary test that the overall coefficient of heat loss equals 5 W/K. By using the finite difference method and considering an unstratified tank, the temperature of water in a storage tank can be calculated from [17] (6)

where at timet.

is the temperature of water at time equal to t + t and

is the temperature of water

When the water temperature from the experiment and the model were compared, it was found that the model predicted 81.0% of the experimental data within 10% variation. The result of this comparison is shown inFig. 7.

Fig. 7. Comparison of water temperature between the experiment and the model.

4. Performance of a solar-assisted heat pump water heater


4.1. Simulation program
In this part, a solar collector modified from corrugated metal roofing was combined with a heat pump for increasing the water temperature. The heat pump models of Euakit [11] were modified with the models of the solar collector and storage tank. It assumed that all heat pump equipments in this work were the same as those of Euakit [11]. Models of each component shown in Fig. 3. The compressor used in this work was an automobile compressor. The pressure ratio of a compressor can be written in term of the mass flow rate of the refrigerant and the inlet temperature of the compressor as follows: For R22:R124:R152a = 20%:57%:23%, (7)

For R22:R124:R152a = 30%:47%:23%, (8)

For R22:R124:R152a = 40%:37%:23%, (9)

where, in all three expressions, Pcp,i and Pcp,o are the inlet and the outlet pressures of the compressor, respectively, is the mass flow rate of refrigerant, and Tcp,i is the inlet temperature of refrigerant. Moreover, the pressure ratio of the compressor can be expressed as (10)

where Tcp,o is the outlet temperature of the refrigerant and n is the polytropic index, which is equal to 1.13. The power of the compressor (Wcp) can be calculated from (11)

In the case of a refrigerant mixture, the gas constant, R, can be evaluated from (12)

where x and M are the mass fraction and molecular weight of each component. The heat transfer rate of an evaporator (Qev) can be calculated from (13)

where

is the mass flow rate of water from a solar collector, Twev,i and Twev,o are the inlet and the

outlet temperatures of water at an evaporator, and hev,i and hev,o are the inlet and the outlet enthalpies of refrigerant, respectively. Moreover, the heat transfer rate of an evaporator can be modeled in terms of the inlet and outlet temperatures of the refrigerant and water; the overall heat transfer coefficient and the area of an evaporator (UAev) can be expressed as follows: For R22:R124:R152a = 20%:57%:23%, (14)

Tev,i=-6.927948-8.738572Qev+0.141635QevTwev,i+0.456279Twev,i;
(15)

For R22:R124:R152a = 30%:47%:23%, (16)

Tev,i=11.3323-14.6393Qev+0.3688QevTwev,i-0.2933Twev,i;
(17)

For R22:R124:R152a = 40%:37%:23%, (18)

Tev,i=-4.609931-9.823929Qev+0.198089QevTwev,i-0.225216Twev,i;
(19)

Notice that the overall heat transfer coefficient and the area of an evaporator can be calculated from (20)

where LMTDev is the log-mean temperature difference of an evaporator. The heat transfer rate of a condenser (Qcd) can be calculated from (21)

and (22)

Qcd=Qev+Wcp,
where is the mass flow rate of water from a storage tank, Twcd,i and Twcd,o are the inlet and

outlet temperatures of water in a condenser, and hcd,i and hcd,oare the inlet and outlet enthalpies of refrigerant, respectively. Moreover, the heat transfer rate of a condenser can be modeled in terms of the inlet temperature of water and the outlet temperature of refrigerant ( Tcd,o) as follows: For R22:R124:R152a = 20%:57%:23%, (23)

Tcd,o=8.210528+3.730154Qcd+0.102957QcdTwcd,i+0.751396Twcd,i.
For R22:R124:R152a = 30%:47%:23%, (24)

Tcd,o=-7.13487+9.24283Qcd-0.03173QcdTwcd,i+1.14595Twcd,i.
For R22:R124:R152a = 40%:37%:23%, (25)

Tcd,o=-1.353027+7.48161Qcd-0.01008QcdTwcd,i+1.02735Twcd,i.
The overall heat transfer coefficient and the area of a condenser can be calculated from (26)

where LMTDcd is the log-mean temperature difference of the condenser. In this case, an expansion valve is assumed in the throttling process, and, therefore,

(27)

hex,i=hex,o,
where hex,i and hex,o are, respectively, the inlet and outlet enthalpies of the refrigerant. The methods for calculating the thermodynamic properties of refrigerant mixtures are shown in Appendix. In the case of a solar collector and a storage tank, Eqs. (4) and (6) were selected as models of the solar collector and storage tank. A flow chart of the simulation program is given in Fig. 8.

Fig. 8. Flow chart of the simulation program for evaluating the performance of the solar-assisted heat pump.

Fig. 9 shows the validation of heat pump model of Euakit [11]. The coefficient of performance of heat pump (COP) was calculated using Eqs. (7), (8), (9), (10), (11), (12), (13), (14), (15), (16), (17), (18), (19), (20), (21),(22), (23), (24), (25) , (26) and (27). Note that, the speed of compressor and the mass flow rate of refrigerant were between 1060 rps and 0.0100.016 kg/s. The mass fraction of R22 in the refrigerant blend was 20%, 30% and 40% while the mass fraction of R152a was kept constant at 23%. It was found that the model of Euakit [11] can be predicted all of the experimental data within 10% variation (R2 = 95.77%). Moreover, it should be noted that the model of Euakit [11] was also published in ref. [15].

Fig. 9. The validation of Euakit model [11].

4.2. Simulation results and discussion


The thermal performance of a solar-assisted heat pump water heater was investigated using a simulation program. For this analysis, the typical daily solar radiation of Thailand was selected as the input parameter.Fig. 10 shows the solar radiation values used in this analysis.

Fig. 10. Solar radiation used in the simulation program.

Fig. 11 shows the effect of refrigerant mixtures on the system performance. Notice that the mass fraction of R152a was kept constant at 23% and that the mass fraction of R22 was varied between 20 and 40%. In this case, the mass of water in the storage tank was 300 kg while the mass flow rate of refrigerant and the compressor speed were 0.012 kg/s and 20 rps, respectively. The results show that, when a solar collector is combined with a heat pump, the water temperature can be increased to 70 C. It should be noted that, when a heat pump is combined with a solar collector, the water temperature in a storage tank is approximately 20 C higher than that of a conventional solar water heater, as shown in Fig. 4 (case Vs = 300 L). Moreover, it was found that the highest temperatures occurred when using R22 = 40%, though, in the cases of R22 = 20% and 30%, the temperature of the hot water is nearly the same. The COP of the heat pump is, however, inversely proportional to the mass fraction of R22, and this result comes from the highest vapor pressure of R22. The higher mass fraction of R22 trends to produce the higher pressure ratio of the compressor, and this situation results in higher power consumption of the compressor and lower COP.

Fig. 11. Effect of mass fraction of R22 on the performance of the system.

In this work, the refrigerant mixture of R22:R124:R152a = 20%:57%:23% was selected as a suitable working fluid because it had the highest COP. Therefore, this component mixture was used in the following analysis. The effect of compressor speed on the performance of the system is shown in Fig. 12. In this case, the mass of water was 300 kg, and the mass flow rate of refrigerant was 0.012 kg/s. It was found that the compressor speed has a small effect on the water temperature, but the COP of the heat pump decreased with an increase in this speed. This result came from the high power consumption of the compressor at a higher compressor speed.

Fig. 12. Effect of compressor speed on the performance of the system.

The effect of the mass flow rate of refrigerant is shown in Fig. 13. In this case, the compressor speed was 20 rps, and the mass of water was 300 kg. It was found that the increase in mass flow rate produced a higher water temperature and a lower COP. This result stems from the higher power consumption of the compressor. The heat transfer rate of the evaporator is increased, however, along with the refrigerants mass flow rate. Therefore, the heat transfer rate of the condenser is increased, resulting in high water temperature and low COP.

Fig. 13. Effect of mass flow rate of refrigerant on the performance of the system.

Based on the highest COP, in this analysis, a compressor speed of 20 rps and a mass flow rate of refrigerant at 0.01 kg/s were chosen as suitable operating conditions for this system. At these conditions, the mass of water in a storage tank was varied between 250 and 1000 kg, and the result is shown in Fig. 14. The simulation result shows that the lower water volume produced the highest water temperature and lowest COP.

Fig. 14. Effect of water volume on the performance of the system.

In the case of using a solar-assisted heat pump for producing hot water during the year, the monthly solar radiation data of Chiang Mai, Thailand [16] was selected for analysis. In this case, the mass of water in the storage tank was varied from 100 to 1000 kg, and the speed of the compressor and mass flow rate of refrigerant were kept constant at 20 rps and 0.01 kg/s, respectively. The temperature of the hot water was set at 80 C. In the case where the solar-assisted heat pump system could not produce 80 C hot water, an electric heater was added to increase the temperature. The simulation result shown in Fig. 15 revealed that using a solar heat pump combined with an electric heater for one year reduces the energy consumption ( Ec) by approximately 2070% compared to that of the conventional electric heater. The reduction in energy consumption depends on the mass of water in the storage tank. A higher mass of water lessens the energy savings. Notice that, if the mass of water is lower than 200 kg, it is not necessary to use energy from an electric heater.

Fig. 15. Energy consumption of a solar heat pump combined with an electric heater.

Moreover, the payback period when using this solar heat pump was also investigated. The payback period (PB) can be calculated from (28)

where CI is the investment cost, Cs is the cost saving per year when using the solar heat pump combined with electric heater compared to conventional electric heater, and CO&M is the operation and maintenance cost in each year. In this analysis, the operation and maintenance cost is fixed at 1000 Baht/year (1 US$ = 31 Baht). Fig. 16 shows the cost and the payback period when using a solar heat pump combined with an electric heater. It was found that the suitable mass of water in a storage tank is 400 kg, and, at this size, the payback period is 2.3 years, the investment cost is 30,105 Baht, and the cost saving in each year is 12,061 Baht.

Fig. 16. Cost and payback period of a solar heat pump combined with an electric heater.

5. Conclusion
From this study, we can conclude the following: A single solar collector can produce approximately 4856 C hot water at an average solar radiation of 600700 W/m2 when the water volume is between 100 and 300 L. A solar collector combined with a heat pump can increase the temperature of hot water by approximately 40% over that of a single solar collector. At a refrigerant mixture composition of R22 = 20%, R124 = 57%, and R152a = 23%, a compressor speed of 20 rps and mass flow rate of refrigerant of 0.01 kg/s give the highest COP for the heat pump. The suitable mass of water in a storage tank is 400 kg, and, at this size, the payback period is 2.3 years, the investment cost is 30,105 Baht, and the cost savings in each year is 12,061 Baht.

Acknowledgement
The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support provided by the Ministry of University Affairs for carrying out this study.