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Original Article Proceedings of Virtual Concept 2006

Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, November 26th – December 1st, 2006

Modelling, Design and construction of a Solar Space

Conditioning System

Martin E. Baltazar-Lopez, Juan Carlos Bahena-Bustos, Rafael Castillo-Rincon, J. Jasson Flores-Prieto, David Perez-Salmeron

Centro Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo Tecnológico, CENIDET

Prol. Palmira Esq. Apatzingan, Cuernavaca, Mor. 62240, Mexico.
Phone/Fax 52 777 312 76 13
E-mail : {baltazar, jasson},,
{rafascast, sayaman5010},

Abstract: A design methodology based on abstraction, is easy to handle, it is possible to use it to heat and dry the
critical parameter identification, and questioning was used for later air used for drying. The final application of these solar
the conceptual design of a virtual prototype of a solar space systems being the drying, in this case of plaster molds for
conditioning system. It was implemented in order to have a ceramic industry.
fine control on space conditioning variables such as
temperature and relative humidity. A case study is presented 2- Drying
for space conditioning for drying, where the virtual prototypes
obtained were tested and the information obtained was The drying or dehydration is an operation in which it takes
successfully implemented in the construction of the real place heat transfer and mass transfer. The drying is a process
prototypes. of physical separation, which objective is to remove a liquid
phase of a solid one by means of thermal energy; this process
Key words: design methodology, solar space conditioning. happens when hot air contacts with a humid solid, its surface
is warmed up and the transmitted heat is used like latent heat
of evaporation, thus the contained water passes from liquid
1- Introduction phase to gas phase. The water steam, that crosses by
On of the problems associated to ceramic industry in the diffusion the air layer in contact with the solid, is dragged out
Mexican state of Morelos, is that the energy used to dry their by the moving air, being generated a zone of low pressure
plaster molds is too expensive. Most of the times to avoid that and between the air and the solid a gradient of steam
cost of using gas furnaces, the ceramic manufacturers prefer to pressure. This gradient provides the impelling force that
dry by direct exposure to the sun and natural air flows. This allows for elimination of water, in steam form.
technique is useful in dry sunny days. The problem arises when
the weather is rainy and the humidity of the air is high, making
the natural drying process very inefficient, taking several 3- Modelling
weeks in order to have the molds acceptable for another set of A modelling of the solar system was carried out in order to
production. know the physical parameters necessary for the design. The
model was implemented through a computer program known
Paradoxically at times when the sales are higher and as SCADES.
production volume increases, the weather does not help in This software development (SCADES) for the modelling
natural drying of molds making necessary an artificial way to and dimensioning of flat solar collectors and systems of
dry. Some times an additional recycled heat produced by water heating for space conditioning could be for industrial
furnaces for cure ceramic is used also to dry the molds. The applications or for domestic use, taking advantage of the
process can take up to 12 days though. solar energy. It works for natural convection and forced
convection, in addition it counts on data bases of
As shown in Baltazar-Lopez, et al [BF1] a design methodology environmental and material conditions in Mexico. The
based on abstraction, critical parameter identification and energy gained is obtained considering balance of energy in
questioning was applied by neophyte engineers to get quick the thermal tank using the multi-node model, and for the
innovative solutions. Based on that experience, the practitioner design and dimensioning of the collector It was used the
research engineers used the same methodology to design methodology reported by Duffe and Beckman[DB1].
prototypes of solar conditioning space conditioning systems.
The idea is to heat water and with a high thermal mass, which

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Figure 1: Main window of SCADES

Figure 2: Plots of Database Model

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The solar radiation that affects SCADES is obtained by the shown solar radiation and room temperature are per
using the model of transmitted direct radiation through hour in the course of one day (1 to 24 hours).
cleared atmospheres and the room temperature is obtained
from the data bases. The verification and validation of the It is possible to visualize graphically the solar radiation
code of the program, was made using works reported and data and room temperature data and hour by hour
with obtained experimental data of SCADES to natural information. Typical plots of data are shown in Figure 2.
convection. Comparing the results of the program to those
reported by Olarte[O1] the following differences were The model and dimensioning of the collector is carried out
obtained: 4% between the temperatures average of the through the main window of the program. Figure 3 shows
water, 13% with respect to the energy stored in the thermal the main window for design of the collector. Here it is
tank (thermotank) and a difference of 16% in the possible to specify material of the fin, the calibre of the
efficiencies. same, the tube and absorbent surface, capitation area , kind
of encapsulation, thermal isolation, etc.
For modelling it is possible to specify different materials,
as well as data specifications like geographic conditions, The other part of the system is to model the thermal tank,
collector orientation, etc. Figure 4, where the volume of the tank, thickness of the
insulator, temperature income flow and global loses of the
The way this model works is by obtaining the solar tank, are specified.
radiation and the room temperature by means of the use
and access to experimental data bases. These data bases Once the data set is complete it is possible to model a
are of different places from Mexico, the data to select are complete system by natural or forced convection as shown
specific for a designated date. It is possible to clarify that in figure 5.

Fig. 3. Main Window for Modelling of Solar Collectors

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Fig. 4. Model of Thermal Tank

Fig. 5 Model of system with Instant Forced Convection

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Fig. 6. SCADES applied to a drying system.

The SCADES is used to model not only the solar Where sub indexes b, d and f represent the direct
collection and heating water system, but is also coupled to radiation, diffuse radiation and reflected radiation
a drying system as shown in figure 6, respectively. The letter I indicates the intensity of radiation
over a horizontal surface, (τα) is the product of
The solar radiation is thermally-modelled using a model of transmitance-absortance which represents the effective
database from meteorological stations. The algorithm used absortance of the cover-plate system., R represents the
in SCADES to provide the solar radiation is shown in geometric factor which relates the solar radiation incident
figure 8. It uses room temperature data as well as solar over a inclined surface respect to the one on a horizontal
radiation data. The solar radiation can be direct or diffuse, surface. All those parameters are calculated and
Figure 7 and it is obtained by the next equation. implemented in the algorithm.

S = I b ∗ Rb (τα ) b + I d ∗ Rd (τα ) d + ( I b + I d ) ∗ (τα ) R f (1)

Figure 7 Direct and diffuse solar radiation

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Radiacion Solar

n,φ ,hora,β,L,A

Gon=G sc [1+0.33*Cos(360*n/365)] 1 δ=23.45*Sin[360*(284+ n)/36 ω=15*(hora-12)


1 3 Cos θz =Cos φ Cos δ + Sin ∅ Sin δ

a*0=0.4237-0.0082*[(6-A)*(6-A)] a0=a0**r0 2

a*1=0.5055-0.00595*[(6.5-A)*(6.5-A)] a1=a1**r1 τ b=a0+a1*exp[-K/Cos θz]

k*=0.2711-0.01858*[(2.5-A)*(2.5-A)] K=k**rk

2 Gb=Gon * τb*Cos θz 3 Gd=Gon * τd*Cos θz 2

1 4 5

Rd=(1+Cos β)/2 6 Rb=Cos θz /Cos φ


Rf=[(1-Cos β)/2]*ρg 7

n1/n2=Sin θ2 / Sin θ1

r⊥ =Sin2 (θ 2-θ 1) / Sin2(θ 2+θ 1) rμ= tg2 (θ2-θ1) / tg2 (θ2+θ1)

τrII=(1-r⊥ ) / (1+r⊥ ) τr=0.5*(τI+τII) τrI=(1-rμ) / (1+rμ)

τa=exp[-K*L / Cos θz ] τ=τr*τa I d=∫21Gddt

ρg=τa-τ τα=τα / [1−(1−α)ρd] I b=∫21Gbdt

7 S=Ib*Rb(τα)b+Id*Rd(τα)d+(Ib+Id)*(τα)Rf


Figure 8: The algorithm used in SCADES to provide the solar radiation

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4- Solar Collector System access for maintenance.

The solar collector system was designed and constructed The thermal tank, Figure 10, used in conjunction of solar
based on the results of SCADES. It consists of five plane collectors was also designed after the virtual model with
collectors, built and detailed in CENIDET, It is placed on a SCADES. It consisted of a 5000 lt. stainless steel tank with
movable structure. It is observed in Figure 9 that the a layer of fibreglass isolation covered with laminated
collectors are connected in parallel allowing for easy galvanized steel.

Figure 9: Solar collectors system

Figure 8: Thermal Tank

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5-Design of the drying chamber • that can operate of continuous way

When a wet mold is placed in a forced hot air dryer, the Critical parameters:
evaporation begins more quickly. This initial evaporation • Uniform distribution of temperature and air
maintains the mold with lower temperature than the humidity.
temperature of the air in the dryer. The water at the interior • Temperature of the air non greater than 45ºC.
of the mold moves towards the surface tending to replace • Optimal energy consumption.
the evaporated humidity. The drying process is completed
when the centre of the mold reaches the temperature of the Functional alternatives:
surrounding air. The used energy to evaporate the water • Use of air extractors for provision and extraction
was calculated, for each evaporated kilogram of water it is of the air,
required a minimum of 512 kcal, Incropera[I1]. The use of • Use of internal diffusers and valves for
dryers with hot and forced air accelerates and controls the homogenous distribution of the air
drying process. The plaster molds hardly are dried to the • Use of a low cost monitoring system and control
100% without the use of this kind of dryers. The main of temperature and humidity
physical limitation when drying a plaster mold is the • Air heating provided by hot water
maximum temperature to which it can operate before • Water heating by solar energy and exhausted heat
burning of the mold; the recommended temperatures are in from furnaces
the interval from 45 to 50 ºC.
• Implementation of a controlled environment
chamber (air temperature, humidity and air flow)
With all the previous information the next step is to apply with similar dimensions to the typical draining
the design methodology as follows. table with ability to be transportable in short
Need Statement: To dry plaster molds
Main function: To remove water of plaster molds
Main constraints: 6- Construction of the drying chamber
• Using an air flow with lower humidity.
• Working Temperature lower than 45ºC. The construction of the drying chamber is based on the
Design Conditions: typical dimensions in the industry of ceramics. As seen
• Drying of molds using solar energy and/or in Figure 9, it was used structural steel for the frame of
exhausted heat. the drying chamber. At the interior of the chamber was
• Having a drying capacity normally used in a instrumented with several temperature and humidity
draining table of 6 meters long typically used in probes in order to monitor the process, Figure 10. The
the ceramic industry. tests were done using the full surface capacity of the
• Ability of the dryer to move from one draining draining table as shown in Figure 11. As shown on
table to another one. Figure 12, the main frame of the drying chamber was
• To reduce the drying time to not more than 4 provided with wheels to give mobility along the drying
days. tables, so that while the drained is made in one table, the
drying process is carried out in another one. The air flow
• To reduce the handlings of molds in the process
is forced by blowers. Doors at respective ends of the
of manufacture;
chamber, will allow moving it on the longitudinal axis of
• by reducing the loading and unloading of work
the draining table. The air flow inside the chamber will
be distributed from a duct on the internal superior part of
• that is feasible of being reproduced by personnel the chamber. The draining table was instrumented with a
not highly enabled hydraulic system for mass monitoring.
• easy operation.

Figure 9: Construction of the drying chamber

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Figure 10: Interior of Drying Chamber

Fig. 11. Plaster molds to be dried.

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Fig. 12. Drying chamber showing wheels for mobility over draining table, which was instrumented with a hydraulic
system for mass measuring.

7- Construction of air conditioner for drying results.

As noted before, one of the critical parameters in the The heat exchanger and recirculation pumps used in the
drying process is the humidity contain in air. The system were automated by using timers, contactors and
construction of an air conditioner for drying, Fig. 13, will photo cells.
allow us to have a control over of the humidity parameter
taking in consideration the temperature of dry bulb and the 8- Conclusions
percentage of existing humidity in the environment; by
means of the use of the psicrometric chart we are able to
determine the temperature necessary to take the With a SCADES Modelling system it was possible to
environment air to a 100% humidity and thus to approach dimension the solar collector, the storage tank, it has been
to a wished degree of humidity for drying. specified the water flow of the water pump. The energy in
the system was known an also the possible temperatures in
the thermal tank and difference in heights of components
The reached temperature when coming out of the extractor in a natural convection system. This information was
once stabilized the hot water flow through all the pipe of integrated in a virtual prototype of a solar space
the condensers was of 41ºC, with 20% humidity contain. conditioning system. The virtual prototype was then used
This air was introduced by the upper part to the drying for the design of the space conditioning system used for
chamber. For testing purposes, plaster molds were placed drying process. The design methodology employed proved
and monitored by around 2 days obtaining acceptable

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Figure 13: Heat exchanger used in the drying system.

to be an efficient way to get innovative solutions. Further [DB1] Duffie, J. A., Beckman, W. A., Solar Engineering
improvements are necessary at the time of this publication of Thermal processes, Wiley, New York, 1991.
in order to optimize drying times and energy use. [O1] Olarte J., Desarrollo de un programa de computo
para el diseño de colectores solares planos y sistemas de
9- References calentamiento de agua, Tesis, Centro Nacional de
Investigación y Desarrollo tecnológico, Cuernavaca, Mor.
[BF1] Baltazar-Lopez M, Flores-Porras J.D., Zenteno- Mexico, 2005.
Cardoso E., Functionally efficient conceptual design and [I1] Incropera, F., Fundamentos de transferencia de calor,
innovation tools, International Conference Virtual Concept 4 ed. Editorial Prentice Hall., 1999.

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