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Performance measurement and mathematical modelling of integrated solar water heaters

Garnier, Celine


Celine Garnier


In a period of rapidly growing deployment of sustainable energy sources the exploitation of solar energy systems is imperative. Colder climates like those experienced in Scotland show a good potential in addressing the thermal energy requirement of buildings; particularly for hot water derived from solar energy. The result of many years of global research on solar water heating systems has outlined the promising approach of integrated collector storage solar water heaters (ICS-SWH) in cold climates. This calls for a need to estimate the potential of ICS-SWH for the Scottish climate.

This research project aims to study and analyse the performance of a newly developed ICS-SWH for Scottish weather conditions, optimise its performance, model its laboratory and field performance together with its environmental impacts and analyse its integration into buildings and benefits of such a heating system, for the primary purpose of proposing a feasible ICS-SWH prototype. Laboratory and field experiments were performed to investigate the performance of the newly developed ICS-SWH and the parameters affecting it which were fundamental to modelling its performance. This was followed by developing a thermal macro-model able to compare the temperature variation in different ICS-SWH designs; including internal temperature and external weather conditions for a given aspect ratio and to evaluate the performance of this ICS-SWH for laboratory and field conditions. This was followed by a three-dimensional Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) analysis of the ICS-SWH in order to optimise the fin spacing as a means of improving its performance. A Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and monetary analysis considering the whole life energy of the different ICS-SWH designs were carried out using a previously developed thermal model in order to establish the most viable ICS-SWH with the smallest carbon footprint. Finally, a study to show how the ICS-SWH could be integrated into buildings and its potential benefits to builders and households was undertaken.

Through this work, important parameters for modelling laboratory and field performance of ICS-SWH are established. The innovative modelling tool developed can predict the bulk water temperature of the ICS-SWH for any orientation and location in the world with good accuracy. Improvements of the ICS-SWH fin design were suggested through the CFD analysis while keeping the costs to a minimum. The ICS-SWH prototype showed a high commercial potential due to its environmental and monetary benefits as well as its potential for integration into commonly used solar water heating installations and modern methods of construction such as roof panels which could result in a viable commercialisation of the prototype.


Garnier, C. Performance measurement and mathematical modelling of integrated solar water heaters. (Thesis). Edinburgh Napier University. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date May 14, 2009
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords Solar water heaters; Integrated storage collectors; Scotland; Performance measurement; Optimisation; Thermal modelling; Computational Fluid Dynamic assessment; Fin spacing; Life Cycle Assessment; Integration; Benefits;
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