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Development of a hybrid solar cascade heat pump heating system

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posted on 24.05.2021, 15:03 by Jamie Fine
Society’s use of fossil fuels has led to increasingly high levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. These levels have been linked to global average temperature rises, and increases in the severity and frequency of major weather events. To combat these effects, nations around the world have committed to reducing their CO2 emissions, and transition to renewable energy. This thesis focuses on the development of a novel solar heating system, which combines a hybrid solar panel and cascade heat pump. The thesis begins by presenting a high-level literature review of solar and heat pump technologies, followed by the initial design development of the system. Two design iterations are presented, illustrating that the final design was selected because it exhibits improved peak heat output, and reduced sensitivity to panel temperature. Next, a manuscript-based chapter is presented that focuses on utilizing the proposed solar heating system for water distillation. Case studies are presented that compare the performance of the proposed system with a solar still at four different locations. The final conclusion from these studies is that using the proposed system offers area-based performance improvements of 780% compared to a basic solar still. A second manuscript-based study is then presented, which focuses on utilizing the proposed solar heating system for domestic hot water production. Additional case studies are detailed that compare the proposed system to an evacuated tube design, and a single heat pump. The conclusions from these studies are that the proposed system exceeds the performance of the evacuated tube system by up to 64%, and that the proposed system is most beneficial during seasons with higher average dry-bulb temperatures, and increased solar irradiation. A final manuscript-based study is then presented, which focuses on a methodology for improving alternate mode thermal performance estimates for hybrid solar panels. The conclusion from this study is that the proposed methodology can successfully estimate thermal performance within 5% of actual values. Each of these studies contributes to the project goal of developing a novel solar energy heating system, which can be further developed to reduce global CO2 emissions, and reduce the effects of climate change.





Doctor of Philosophy


Mechanical and Industrial Engineering

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type


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Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (Theses)