A HYBRID AIR CONDITIONER DRIVEN BY A HYBRID SOLAR COLLECTOR
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The objective of this thesis is to search for an efficient way of utilizing solar energy in air conditioning applications. The current solar Air Conditioners (A/C)s suffer from low Coefficient of Performance (COP) and performance degradation in hot and humid climates. By investigating the possible ways of utilizing solar energy in air conditioning applications, the bottlenecks in these approaches were identified. That resulted in proposing a novel system whose subsystem synergy led to a COP higher than unity. The proposed system was found to maintain indoor comfort at a higher COP compared to the most common solar A/Cs, especially under very hot and humid climate conditions. The novelty of the proposed A/C is to use a concentrating photovoltaic/thermal collector, which outputs thermal and electrical energy simultaneously, to drive a hybrid A/C. The performance of the hybrid A/C, which consists of a desiccant wheel, an enthalpy wheel, and a vapor compression cycle (VCC), was investigated experimentally. This work also explored the use of a new type of desiccant material, which can be regenerated with a low temperature heat source. The experimental results showed that the hybrid A/C is more effective than the standalone VCC in maintaining the indoor conditions within the comfort zone. Using the experimental data, the COP of the hybrid A/C driven by a hybrid solar collector was found to be at least double that of the current solar A/Cs. The innovative integration of its subsystems allows each subsystem to do what it can do best. That leads to lower energy consumption which helps reduce the peak electrical loads on electric utilities and reduces the consumer operating cost since less energy is purchased during the on peak periods and less solar collector area is needed. In order for the proposed A/C to become a real alternative to conventional systems, its performance and total cost were optimized using the experimentally validated model. The results showed that for an electricity price of 0.12 $/kW-hr, the hybrid solar A/C's cumulative total cost will be less than that of a standard VCC after 17.5 years of operation.