Condensers are used in chillers and in air-conditioning systems to reject heat from the refrigerant to the outdoor air and to help in liquefying the refrigerant as it passes through its tubes. Diverting the solar flux radiated from the sun away from the condenser would help in eliminating an additional source of heat into the refrigerant and hence is expected to enhance the performance of the air-conditioning system.
A capstone project in the School of Engineering Technology at xxx University conducted an experimental and analytical study to investigate the performance of air-conditioning systems when the condenser was shaded from sun rays. The experimental study investigated a 3 ton-refrigerant (TR) unit installed in an actual residential house. The surface temperature of the tubes entering and exiting the condenser were measured and recorded along with the evaporator temperature. The study looked into improvement in the coefficient of performance (COP) of the cycle. On the other hand, the study simulated the COP for a 3-TR unit and for a wider range of air-conditioning unit capacities ranging from 80-370 TR. For the experimental part, the study looked into the temperatures between June and September while maintaining the evaporator temperature at approximately 5°C, 8°C, and 10°C. Averages of the COP for each day were compared for shaded versus unshaded cases. Outdoor temperatures ranged between 18-32°C. The experimental results for the 3-TR unit showed 12-39% improvement in the COP of the cycle under various evaporator temperatures with uncertainty levels between 1.6-36%, whereas the simulated results showed higher improvements than the experimental. For the 80-370 TR simulation, the study showed that the COP per heat rejected from each square meter of condenser surface area was more uniform for shaded cases. The COP improvement for the higher capacity units followed the same trend as for the 3-TR unit as it increased with an increase in the evaporator temperature or a decrease in the outdoor ambient temperature, but the improvements were less and ranged between 9-17% for the various cases.
The project was assessed through biweekly progress reports, presentations, final report and team work which satisfied many of the ABET outcomes as shown in the project assessment section. This project and similarly embedded projects in courses are thought to increase students' knowledge by involving them in an active learning environment solving or analyzing real world problems and challenges.
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