SunCool - Solar Cooling Technology for a Thermal Comfort Laboratory

SunCool has installed a solar cooling system at the University of Rijeka – Faculty of Engineering. This solar cooling technology is used to cool laboratory facilities, heat consumption water and water in circuits within the labs, and possibly heat/cool offices during periods when the laboratory is not in operation.

SunCool aims to improve energy sustainability, and promote and support dissemination of solar cooling technology. The solar cooling technology is used extensively for education and research purposes. Guidelines will be generated for educating energy consumers on how to adopt the innovative technology and research will focus on improving energy efficiency using proper control strategies for solar powered refrigeration.

The solar cooling system involves vacuum solar collectors and an ammonia-water absorption chiller. The vacuum solar collectors have a total absorber area of 50 m2 with an operating temperature of 90 °C.  The ammonia-water absorption chiller uses the heat harnessed from the vacuum solar collectors to provide cooling. The absorption chiller has a cooling capacity of 18,6 kW and can achieve temperatures below 0 °C.  To ensure maximum efficiency performance of this solar cooling system, proper control strategies are being investigated.

Since the installation of the solar cooling system, working conditions have improved, although the amount of improvement is difficult to measure. Currently, data is being collected to assess greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption reduction. Also, the performance of the solar cooling technology is being assessed and compared to the predicted performance. The results of first measurements have confirmed the estimations – approximately 11000 kWh of thermal energy saved during the summer period, together with savings of 12000 kWh for cooling. However, given the atypical weather conditions this August when the measuring started, before making any conclusions, it is maybe better to wait for a calendar year to pass.

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