Experiment and Results

The team has designed an experiment to validify the results of the System Advisory Model in order to determine where to go with the project. The System Advisory Model gave results that were drastically lower than the team was hoping for. The results of the experiment will give the team concrete data to move forward with.

The experiment consisted of building a solar panel mount at the desired panel implementation angle. Water will be pumped through the manifold to collect the heat from the evacuated tubes. The inlet and outlet temperature and pressure will be measured in order to determine the temperature change through the panel. The data collected from this experiment was extrapolated to determine how many panels will be needed to meet the heating demand of the Engineering building.

The team replecated the rated flow rate of the Sunmaxx VHP30 Solar Thermal Panel and measured a steady 5-6˚F temperature rise through the panel in the experiment. The results of the experiment show that the necessary amount of panels to account for both the 40˚F temperature change through the system and the 150 GPM flow rate, it was determined that each panel produces about .027MMBTU/hr.

The building requires on average 1.4MMBTU/hr. Based on the results of this experiment, the solar system would need 518 panels to meet this demand. With a roofspace enough to tightly fit 180 panels, the System Advisory Model's estimations were backed by the experiment. This is a considerably lower amount of heat than the team was hoping. With the roof completely filled with these panels, a little more than a third of the heating demand would be offset.

Implementation of this design has been estimated to be between $750,000 and $1 million, and the natural gas heating plant will still need to provide almost two thirds of the heating. With this in mind, the system as it currently stands is not feasible. With the data and research that the team has put together, the project can be put on hold until outside factors, such as the price of natural gas and solar panel efficiency, change in favor of the project.

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