Experimental Investigation of a Solar Greenhouse Heating System Equipped with a Parabolic Trough Solar Concentrator and a Double-Purpose Flat Plate Solar Collector

Journal of Agricultural Machinery. 2017;7(2):364-378 DOI 10.22067/jam.v7i2.56939


Journal Homepage

Journal Title: Journal of Agricultural Machinery

ISSN: 2228-6829 (Print); 2423-3943 (Online)

Publisher: Ferdowsi University of Mashhad

LCC Subject Category: Agriculture: Agriculture (General) | Technology: Engineering (General). Civil engineering (General)

Country of publisher: Iran, Islamic Republic of

Language of fulltext: Persian

Full-text formats available: PDF



M Jafari (Shahid Bahonar University of Kerman)

H Mortezapour (shahid Bahonar University of Kerman)

K Jafari Naeimi (Shahid Bahonar University of Kerman)

M. M Maharlooei (Shahid Bahonar University of Kerman)


Double blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 25 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

Introduction Greenhouses provide a suitable environment in which all the parameters required for growing the plants can be controlled throughout the year. Greenhouse heating is one of the most important issues in productivity of a greenhouse. In many countries, heating costs in the greenhouses are very high, having almost 60-80% of the total production costs. In recent years, several studies have attempted to reduce the heating costs of the greenhouses by applying more energy efficient equipment and using the renewable energy sources as alternatives or supplementary to the fossil fuels. In the present study a novel solar greenhouse heating system equipped with a parabolic trough solar concentrator (PTC) and a flat-plate solar collector has been developed. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to investigate the performance of the proposed heating system at different working conditions. Materials and Methods The presented solar greenhouse heating system was comprised of a parabolic trough solar concentrator (PTC), a heat storage tank, a pump and a flat plate solar collector. The PTC was constructed from a polished stainless steel sheet (as the reflector) and a vacuum tube receiver. The PTC was connected to the tank by using insulated tubes and a water pump was utilized to circulate the working fluid trough the PTC and the heat exchanger installed between walls of the tank. The uncovered solar collector was located inside the greenhouse. During the sunshine time, a fraction of the total solar radiation received inside the greenhouse is absorbed by the solar collector. This rises the temperature of the working fluid inside the collector which led to density reduction and natural flow of the fluid. In other words, the collector works as a natural flow flat plate solar collector during the sunshine time. At night, when the greenhouse temperature is lower than tank temperature, the fluid flows in a reverse direction through the solar collector and the stored heat transferred from the collector surface to the greenhouse. The evaluation tests were conducted at three levels of fluid flow rate through the solar concentrator (0.44, 0.75 and 1.5 Lmin-1) and two different working modes of the heat exchanger. Results and Discussion The variation of thermal efficiency of the PTC at different flow rates has been illustrated in Fig 3. As shown, thermal efficiency increased with flow rate mainly because the fluid convection coefficient enhances with raising the velocity of the fluid inside the tubes. The heat storing process began from 9 am and the highest amounts of the stored heat during sunshine time occurred between 10 am and 2 pm. Fig 5 showed that the stored energy in the tank enhanced when the flat plate collector was employed beside the PTC. Also, increasing the fluid flow rate from 0.44 to 1.5 Lmin-1 improved the index of stored heat by 32.14%. Energy consumption during the night time was also significantly changed with flow rate and the mode of heating. Fig 7 indicated that the electrical energy consumption was lower with flat plate solar collector and it is possible to save the electrical energy by 26.67% using the flat plate collector. Bouadila et al., (2014) concluded that the electrical energy consumption reduced by 31% employing a natural convection flat plate solar collector system equipped with phase changed heat storage material for greenhouse heating. Since increasing the flow rate enhanced the thermal efficiency of the solar concentrator system and led to an improvement in stored thermal energy during the sunshine time, solar fraction increased with raising the flow rate from 0.44 to 1.5 Lmin-1. A maximum solar fraction of 66% was achieved at the highest flow rate when using the flat plate solar collector beside the PTC. Conclusions An experimental comparative study was conducted to investigate the performance of a novel solar greenhouse heating system at the different fluid flow rates and two modes of heating (with and without flat plat solar collector). The results can be summarized as follows: A maximum thermal efficiency of about 71% was achieved at the flow rate of 1.5 Lmin-1. Raising the flow rate from 0.44 to 1.5 Lmin-1 improved the index of stored heat and solar fraction by 32.14% and 21%, respectively. The highest value of solar fraction was found to be 66% at the highest flow rate when engaging the flat plate solar collector beside the PTC.