India: Innovative Solar Cooling System at Solar Energy Centre
The Solar Energy Centre in Haryana State can now score with a new and innovative solar air conditioning demonstration system: Developed by Thermax, one of India’s leading waste heat recovery and cooling manufacturers, the system with a 100 kW cooling capacity has an integrated triple-effect Vapour Absorption Chiller (VAC) and solar parabolic concentrators. Both components were developed locally through a 15-month cooperative application research by the Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials (ARCI), the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IITK) – both from India -, and the German ISE Fraunhofer Institute.
Photo: Jaideep Malaviya
The showcase system has been built to meet the cooling demand of 13 rooms at the highly frequented Solar Energy Centre. Thermax’ solar collectors have been specifically designed to provide pressurised hot water between 140 and 210 °C. The VAC uses either hot water or hot steam as an energy source, or can be powered by other fuels, such as gas, kerosene or oil. The chiller’s flexibility has the advantage to allow continuous operation of the system even during non-sunny hours. The VAC generates 7 °C chilled water, which circulates through the fan coil units installed in each of the thirteen rooms.
“We were able to reduce space needs by nearly 30% and increase cooling efficiency by 20 % compared to typical solar cooling systems,“ M S Unnikrishnan, Managing Director of Thermax Limited, says. It had brought down costs and moved the project closer to commercialisation – Thermax’ aim.
A study undertaken by the company found that 35% of India’s electricity is used for air-conditioning and cooling. Thermax sees its new technology in a wide range of applications in shopping malls, commercial building complexes, office buildings, hospitals and the industrial cooling area, with sizes ranging from 100 to 3,000 kW.
The Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) market in India is dominated by air-conditioning needs: Although precise figures have yet to be published on the size of the market, experts claim the number to be close to a totally installed cooling capacity of 16.5 GW. The current solar cooling project shows the government’s conviction in developing other green energy applications in addition to solar based power generation technologies – all independent of an energy grid.