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Accepted Manuscript

Design, monitoring and dynamic model development of a solar heating and

cooling system

Boris Delač, Branimir Pavković, Kristian Lenić

PII: S1359-4311(18)31859-3
Reference: ATE 12410

To appear in: Applied Thermal Engineering

Received Date: 24 March 2018

Revised Date: 14 June 2018
Accepted Date: 9 July 2018

Please cite this article as: B. Delač, B. Pavković, K. Lenić, Design, monitoring and dynamic model development of
a solar heating and cooling system, Applied Thermal Engineering (2018), doi:

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Design, monitoring and dynamic model development of a solar heating and cooling system

Boris Delač, Branimir Pavković, Kristian Lenić

Department of Thermodynamics and Energy Engineering, University of Rijeka, Faculty of Engineering,

Vukovarska 58, Rijeka, Croatia

Corresponding author:
Boris Delač
Tel.: +385 51 651 511
E-mail address:

This paper presents the design and performance analysis of a solar thermal heating and cooling (SHC) system.
Apart from year-round domestic hot water (DHW) heating and space cooling, the specific system design
provides the possibility to utilize waste heat of absorption chiller (ACH) during cooling operation for DHW
preheating. This system was designed and set up as a first pilot plant on northern Adriatic coast of Croatia to
ensure better assessment of technical and economic feasibility of SHC systems in that area through monitoring
during operation.
Following the system configuration design with original control system parameters, a detailed TRNSYS
dynamic simulation model is developed. A methodology for validation of simulation model on a level of
complete SHC system is proposed. The presented approach comprises simulation of the control system and
interaction between system components, thus enabling reliable application of simulation model for further
improvements of a particular system. Monitoring and simulation data showed satisfactory performance of
SHC system. 55% of total irradiated solar energy is utilized at solar collectors, measured seasonal chiller
efficiency ratio is 0.68 and running costs are 0.0225 € per kWh of produced cooling energy.
Monitoring data also indicated that, due to unexpected low DHW consumption of the particular system
compared to design guidelines, only 8% of heat from condenser and absorber is recovered, while the rest of
the heat is rejected to surroundings at the cooling tower. Using the simulation model, a set of scenarios with
increased DHW consumption and improved heat exchanger parameters were investigated in order to
overcome the issue of low heat recovery efficiency. Preliminary analysis for analyzed period showed
possibility for recovery up to 53% of waste condenser and absorber heat, reduction of cooling energy price by
15% and reduction of total system running costs when heating and cooling are both considered. The
developed simulation model has been proven as valuable tool for evaluation of energy balances and feasibility
analysis as well as for system configuration analysis and performance enhancement and it will be used for
further research in order to achieve optimal efficiency in year-round operation.

Solar cooling
Solar heating
Absorption chiller
Heat recovery
Dynamic simulation

1. Introduction
The global trend of greenhouse gas emission reduction has created conditions in which renewable energy
sources and energy efficient systems are necessary for sustainable development. Due to technology
developments and increased application which resulted in reduced investment costs, utilization of solar energy
became interesting for integration in heating and cooling systems. Nevertheless, some applications, such as
solar cooling (SC) do not show such a level of feasibility as other and have to be carefully considered in
design if any acceptable level of cost efficiency is expected, which is much more important to investors than
environmental issues.
Application of solar thermal collectors for domestic hot water (DHW) heating is the most common way to
integrate solar technology in existing building energy systems. Depending on the system size, purpose and
consumption profile, energy surpluses can occur during summer months. This annual disbalance of produced
and consumed energy raises the idea to apply solar thermal cooling technologies. Absorption and adsorption
cooling are mature technologies for direct utilization of solar thermal energy. Generally, absorption chillers
are less expensive and offer better performance than adsorption chillers [1], thus the number of solar
absorption cooling plants across Europe has increased in recent years. By the end of 2015, approximately
1350 SC systems were installed worldwide with approximately 70% of the installed systems in Europe, most
notably in Spain, Germany and Italy [2]. This number is neglectable compared to applied compression cooling
systems and cannot be considered as sufficient at all. The most probable explanation for such a situation is
that cost related feasibility problems with those installations are present everywhere.
The optimal configuration of SC system cannot be defined for all situations. System feasibility depends on
many boundary conditions such as system configuration, consumption profile, etc. Most of the research is
based on systems with evacuated tube solar collectors and single stage absorption chiller (ACH) [3, 4, 5, 6, 7,
8, 9, 10, 11]. In comparison with flat plate collectors, evacuated tube solar collectors require up to 50%
smaller aperture area and heat storage volume for reaching desired solar fraction, but different specific
investment costs can change the outcome of economic analysis [3, 4].
In recent years many authors have estimated performance of solar thermal heating and cooling (SHC) systems
at variety of locations. The performance is often compared to conventional heating or cooling generator with
fossil fuel or electricity to estimate primary energy savings and economic benefits [7, 8, 12, 13, 14, 5, 15, 16,
4] or environmental impact [4, 6]. Reliable considerations of SC systems require detailed insight in the whole
system operation. These parameters can be estimated numerically through detailed system simulation. The
approach by dynamic system simulation proved to be necessary for achieving correct solar thermal system
sizing, desired solar fractions and establishing control strategy [5]. Papers comprising dynamic system
simulation differ by level of details considered in simulation model, presence of model experimental
validation and considered climate location.
Some simple estimations were carried out by Florides et al. [12, 13] who developed TRNSYS model to
determine economic optimal configuration of SHC system for a typical house in Cyprus. Even without
experimental validation of the model and questionable economic estimation, authors have concluded that the
system could provide environmental and economic benefits in comparison with conventional system based on
oil boiler and vapor compression chiller, but the limitation is high investment costs for the chiller. A similar,
more recent study, is carried out by Arsalis and Alexandrou [14] who applied own mathematical model to
determine economic optimal SHC system for a residential building in Cyprus. Their system has favorable
running costs in comparison with air to water vapor compression heat pump, but their estimations didn’t
include auxiliary equipment electricity consumption, maintenance costs, nor consumption and cost for water
supplied to cooling towers due to evaporation. It is important to emphasize that system simulations in three
previous cited papers [12, 13, 14] lack of ACH capacity control by generator supply temperature and
simulation of heat rejection from condenser and absorber which can have significant impact on ACH
performance and operational costs, especially in warmer climates. Evola et al. [17] have developed analytical
model for dynamic simulation of SC system with flat plate collectors, 4,5 kW single stage ACH and
horizontal ground heat exchanger for rejecting condenser and absorber heat. Experimental validation was
carried on three sample days from cooling season. Their simulation included solar collector model, stratified
storage tank, heat exchangers and simple mass and energy balance ACH model, but lacks of heat rejection
system which is replaced with cooling fluid inlet temperature and mass flow.
Several authors have investigated how sizing of absorption chiller capacity impacts the system feasibility.
Tsoutsos et al. [15] evaluated application and design of two SHC systems for hospital buildings in Greece: the
one with absorption chiller designed to cover maximum load and another where absorption chiller covers only
a fraction of maximum load. Although their model lack of experimental validation, they have concluded
economic and environmental benefits for the system designed to cover a fraction of maximal load. Eicker et
al. [18] have numerically analyzed application and design of SHC systems and concluded economic viability
for systems located in hot climates. While economic advantages in case of limited operating hours strongly
depend on sizing of chiller, authors recommend to undersize the ACH to 60% of building maximal cooling
load without risk of loss in solar fraction. Calise et al. [8] modeled SHC systems in TRNSYS and indicated
that sizing the chiller to 30% of design cooling load has best economic benefits, but also leads to lower
primary energy savings than by sizing the chiller for maximum cooling load. Shirazi et al. [9] developed
TRNSYS models and analyzed SHC system configurations where absorption chiller is selected for design
load or for covering fractions of 20 and 50% of maximal load. They indicated that it is not economical to size
absorption chiller and solar collectors to cover maximal cooling load because in that case the chiller operates
mostly under part load conditions. On the contrary to these considerations, Hang et al. [6] modeled and
optimized solar thermal cooling system in which the chiller was oversized by 20% over design load. The
research resulted with tradeoff between economic and environmental optimums and strong need for
government subsidies to improve the system feasibility. A general conclusion from the cited research papers it
that choosing absorption chiller with capacity to cover only a fraction of design load leads to better economic
benefits. It is also possible to achieve more operating hours with chiller working at maximal load and thus less
electrical energy consumption from auxiliary equipment required to run the system.
In systems with chiller sized for larger share of design load the chiller works more often at partial load, thus
the system control is more important to achieve efficient operation. Jähnig et al. [19] have analyzed monitored
system data from several small scale commercial and residential installations and concluded that SHC system
electrical consumption (including auxiliary equipment besides the chiller) is much higher than expected.
Eicker et al. [11] indicated that the simple control by just lowering temperature of the heating fluid at the
generator inlet without changing the pump speed is not desirable for electrical efficiency of system, as it
results in longer operating hours for achieving the same amount of cooling energy, but at the same time it can
be beneficial while solar fraction increases due to allowed lowered solar collector temperature. Control of
cooling capacity by simultaneous adjustment of cooling water pump flowrate and cooling tower fan speed to
achieve variable cooling water set point was investigated by Dalibard et al. [20] and Nienborg et al. [21]. The
first group of authors experimentally verified their method which shows potential for saving up to 60 % of
electrical energy compared to uncontrolled system. The latter indicated that it is more beneficial to control fan
speed than pump speed, but by control of both points, a reduction in auxiliary energy of 25% is possible. Both
papers lack consideration of consumption of the water evaporating in cooling tower.
The previously cited papers which comprised experimentally validated simulation models are validated only
by considering a single system component, usually only the chiller, and aren’t validated at the level of integral
system. The performance of these systems in real applications can differ from laboratory test results and
theoretical estimations, thus the validation of model is beneficial for reliable insight in system performance,
especially in optimization of a particular system.
The majority of cited papers is based on dynamic system simulation with high level of details considered in
simulation model, but also in some of the papers simple system configurations without control system and
without clearly presented design parameters can be found. In some of the papers authors neglected vital
components of SC system like heat rejection from condenser and absorber which has strong impact on system
None of the cited papers mentioned the possibility of condenser and absorber heat recovery. Although this
large amount of waste heat at relatively low temperature has limited possibility for utilization, in systems with
DHW it could be used for DHW preheating. Some of the cited papers included complex systems with DHW
heating but all skipped considering and implementing heat recovery.
In a part of the cited papers authors utilized incomplete considerations for running costs of SHC systems by
avoiding consumption of water and chemicals for water treatment in cooling towers and underestimating or
overestimating auxiliary electrical energy consumption by introduction of specific consumptions per kW of
cooling capacity. Electrical energy is needed for running these systems, but not in such percentage like some
authors present that.
The analyzed and cited literature also reveals that the investment price for SHC system often includes only
equipment cost without equipment installation or any other unpredicted cost which can follow in project
realization. This is obvious from prices in previously cited papers which considered small scale chillers in
price range from lower ones with 500 €/kW [12, 13], 1000 – 1500 €/kW [15] and 1500 €/kW [14], to higher
ones with 2000 – 2600 €/kW [5]. General impression of authors of the present paper based on long term
experience with HVAC system design and construction is that those are underestimated and could lead to
false conclusions about economic viability of these systems.
Motivated by the indicated deficiencies in research papers, this papers intention is to develop a detailed
simulation model and to use it for evaluation and optimization of a particular SHC system with single stage
absorption chiller. Conclusions of different research papers cannot be considered general, and simulation of
the system performance is necessary for any particular system in order to optimize it in concept design phase.
As such an approach demands experimental validation of the model, the presented project started with
preliminary design and simulation using simple simulation model, continued with system design and
construction, performed measurements and developed detailed model which was validated and finally used for
system analysis and optimization.
The opportunity for such an approach came out from IPA ADRIACOLD project “Diffusion of Cooling and
Refreshing Technologies using the Solar Energy Resource in the Adriatic Regions” [22]. The project was co-
financed by the European Union through the IPA Adriatic Cross-border Cooperation Programme. The setup of
demonstration pilot plants was intended to ensure better assess of technical and economic feasibility of this
type of systems through monitoring pilot plants after the end of the project.
The system is located in special hospital for medical rehabilitation in Crikvenica (Croatia) where it provides
cooling energy during summer months and contributes in energy for DHW heating during period when no
cooling is needed. The possibility to utilize waste heat from absorption chiller during cooling operation for
DHW preheating is implemented in the system. In this paper, a complete design of SHC system is presented
and used to develop a complex dynamic simulation model in TRNSYS environment. The monitoring data
recorded in cooling season of 2015 are presented in this paper and used for validation of the complete system
simulation model. Hereby a methodology for validation of simulation model on a level of complete SHC
system is proposed in the approach which comprises simulation of the control system and interaction between
system components, thus enables reliable application of simulation model for further improvements of a
particular system. Good agreement of simulation results with the measurements allows application of the
model for additional investigations and improvements of the system. In this work the influential parameters on
performance of heat recovery from condenser and absorber are further investigated through set of scenarios
applied on simulation model.
This numerical case study with validated dynamical simulation model presents a valuable tool which will be
in future work used for investigation of implementing different system layouts and evaluation of alternative
backup options for heating, cooling and rejecting heat from condenser and absorber.
Considerations given hereby are aimed at:
 presentation of system design and development of simulation model,
 insight in monitoring data from system operation and validation of simulation model,
 determination of possibility for recovery of ACH condenser and absorber heat,
 monitoring of electrical efficiency of system,
 cost analysis of presented solar thermal cooling system,
 determination of weaknesses in designed system and
 optimization of particular components of the system.
Novelties of this paper are presented through the methodology for validation of simulation model on a level of
complete SHC system, introduction of possibility for recovery of ACH condenser and absorber heat, as well
as determination of parameters affecting heat recovery efficiency.
2. SHC system
Croatian part of Adriatic coast with annual solar potential ranging from 1.43 MWh/m2 in north to 1.54
MWh/m2 in south represents a suitable region for solar thermal systems application [23]. Opposed to that fact,
application of SC systems in Croatian Adriatic region is limited, mainly due to high investment costs and
insufficient experience in system design and operation.
With aim to promote the use of renewable energy for cooling and therefore contribute to the decarbonization
in the Adriatic region, the series of demonstrative pilot plants were designed and set up under IPA
ADRIACOLD project [22]. This paper is based on the data from the demonstration pilot plant located in
special hospital for medical rehabilitation in Crikvenica, North Adriatic of Croatia. The plant was designed by
authors of the presented paper who also investigated preliminary design and equipment sizing through simple
dynamic system simulation model [24]. Limited project funding did not allow building system with higher
cooling or heating capability which could consequently lead to increased feasibility, and also had consequence
in the way how the new equipment was integrated into present building HVAC system. Therefore, the system
still has potential to expand possibilities for renewable energy utilization and equipment capacity expansion.

2.1 System design

A simplified layout of system is presented in Figure 1. The solar system consists of four groups of evacuated
tube collectors with 52 m2 total absorber area (Viessmann 200-T SPE). The groups of collectors are
connected in parallel, but each group consists of four solar collectors with heat pipes connected in series with
heat removal at the top heat exchanger of each heat pipe. The collectors are facing south at the inclination of
35°. To prevent freezing in solar system during winter, propylene glycol based heat transfer mixture (55 %
water content) is chosen as heat transfer fluid. The solar collectors are hydraulically connected to heat
exchangers HX-1 and HX-3. During cooling season, by control of valve RV-1, heat from the solar collectors
is transferred to the heat exchanger HX-3 and hot storage tank S-3 for running absorption chiller. If there is no
need for cooling, the solar heat is used to preheat DHW, thus it is transferred to DHW storage tank S-1 via
heat exchanger HX-1. Both tanks S-1 and S-3 have 2 m3 volume. DHW from storage tank S-1 is further
distributed to three hospital wards and, if necessary, reheated to 60°C by central fuel oil boiler.

SC-1 SC-2 SC-3 SC-4



TI14 TI15

CP-6 TI13 CP-10

TI22 TI23
HX-1 HX-2 HX-3
S-3 S-4

CP-2 CP-4 CP-5 K-2 K-3


Figure 1 Solar absorption cooling and heating system layout (2-column fitting image)
Cooling energy from SHC system is used for cooling 530 m2 of restaurant dining area situated at the first floor
of the building. Design load for cooling of conditioned space is higher than ACH cooling capacity and reaches
35 kW. Prior to installing of SHC system split type air conditioners with total cooling capacity of 45 kW were
used for cooling. These units were intentionally left in operation to allow installment of ACH with reduced
capacity which will cover base cooling load.
Hot water driven single effect LiBr-H2O absorption chiller (Yazaki WFC-SC5) supplies chilled water to fan
coils in restaurant dining area. Nominal cooling capacity is 17.5 kW with water temperatures 12.5/7°C at
evaporator, 88/83°C at generator and 31/35°C at condenser/absorber. 25.1 kW of hot water energy is required
to run the chiller, while 42.7 kW of waste heat is rejected. Internal solution pump power is 0.05 kW. Open
type cooling tower CT is used to reject heat from absorber and condenser. On its way to cooling tower water
flows through heat exchanger HX-2 which enables utilization of waste heat for DHW preheating. If the water
temperature at the exit from ACH is 10 K above DHW temperature at the bottom of tank S-2, the pump CP-4
is turned on and heat is transferred to storage tank S-2. The volume of storage tank S-2 is 2 m3. Cooling tower
capacity is 47 kW at conditions 26°C wet bulb temperature, 35°C supply and 31°C return water temperature.
Frequency controller is used to control fan speed while maintaining outlet water temperature in range 26 –
30°C. Control valve RV-3 provides possibility to control outlet temperature from cooling tower by routing
water from ACH either to cooling tower inlet or to bypass it. Chilled water from ACH is stored in tank S-4
with volume 1 m3. Heat exchanger design characteristics are presented in Table 1.
The distribution of the cooling energy is using fan coils with 7°C supply and 12°C return temperature. Using
frequency controllers all the pumps in system are set to provide design flows (CP-1 3000 l/h, CP-2 3000 l/h,
CP-3 5000 l/h, CP-4 6120 l/h, CP-5 3000 l/h, CP-6 4320 l/h, CP-7 4130 l/h, CP-8 9180 l/h, CP-9 2060 l/h),
but the pumps are on/off operated.
Supervisory, control and data acquisition system (SCADA) ensures control and acquisition of data from the
system: global horizontal radiation, atmospheric pressure, dry bulb temperature, relative humidity, wind
speed, system temperatures, equipment status and heat meter data. Data is collected in 60 second time step.
Table 1 Heat exchanger design characteristics
Source side Load side
Working fluid Temperature Working fluid Temperature
propylene glycol
HX-1 33 kW 70/60 °C water 50/60 °C
based mixture
HX-2 43 kW water 35/31 °C water 23/29 °C
propylene glycol
HX-3 33 kW 95/85 °C water 80/90 °C
based mixture

Three ultrasonic heat meters K-1, K-2 and K-3 are used to measure exchanged heat in the system and total of
23 sensors are used for temperature readings. Depending on RV-1 valve position, heat meter K-1 measures
heat from solar collectors as exchanged for DHW heating (HX-1) or exchanged for ACH generator (HX-3).
ACH heat balance is calculated by measurements from two heat meters and one power meter: K-2 for heat
exchanged on ACH generator, K-3 for heat exchanged on ACH evaporator and P-1 for electrical power
consumption from ACH solution pump and auxiliary. Heat rejected from ACH condenser and absorber is
calculated as sum of heats from generator and evaporator and sum of electrical power from ACH. Depending
on status signal from circulating pump CP-4 and temperature sensor at cooling tower inlet, this heat is further
calculated either as rejected to cooling tower or rejected to first stage of DHW heating (HX-2). DHW
consumption is measured by cold water flow meter MV.
During cooling period split type air conditioners are set in operation only when the air temperature in
restaurant is above 26°C. To ensure more full time operating hours of SHC system, utilization of thermal
accumulation of massive building and less part load operation with high auxiliary power demand, temperature
set point for fan coils in restaurant is lower (22°C) and additional temperature set point for operation of
cooling distribution system is storage tank S-4 temperature 15°C.

2.2 System price

Due to limited funding during design phase, special cause was taken to fit requirements of the project into
available funds and fulfil project requirements for system monitoring. SHC system investment is separated
into groups as presented in Table 2. Total price for the described system is 172000 € or approximately 9800
€/kW of cooling capacity. If the DHW system is omitted from price and costs for automation and wiring were
reduced due to simplified control system, price could go down to 7000 €/kW. This price is still rather high and
at least three times higher than usual prices of SHC systems cited in literature, although some studies of
practical applications confirm hereby presented price for low capacity systems [25].
Table 2 System price
Group Items Price [€]
solar collectors, pipeline, insulation, pumps, valves and fittings, 35000
Solar system
ACH, CT, storage tanks, heat exchangers pipeline, insulation, 55000
Absorption cooling pumps, valves and fittings, water treatment for CT, sensors

Distribution of cooling fan coils, distribution pipelines, valves and fittings, sensors, 11500
energy automation, sensors
storage tanks, heat exchangers, insulation, pumps, valves and 12500
fittings, sensors
all of the construction works in building which follow 10000
Construction works
equipment installation
Solar collectors supporting supporting construction for solar collectors 12000
Automation and wiring 36000
Total 172000
2.3 Control strategy
Problem of high temperature levels even in winter operating conditions can appear with selected type of
evacuated tube solar collectors without temperature sensitive absorber coating. In the case when heat demand
is not present, or it is lower than the heat production, fluid can evaporate, thus causing that entire system
operation is ceased. In such a case, absorber temperature rises to 250°C in very short time. Frequent operation
of the collector in such a regime is not advisable and can cause collector damages. Therefore, heat load for
collectors must always be present, either as heat utilization for other purposes besides cooling, or as heat
rejection via dry coolers or similar devices, which is not desirable for economic reasons. Preliminary system
simulation has proven that chosen tank volumes and collector field area were well sized and dry cooler is not
necessary in given system design as entire heat gained via collectors can safely be stored in water tanks
without temperature increase above allowed limit.
Installers of the control system provided cyclic mode of solar system according to usual installer’s practice to
prevent false reading from collector temperature sensor and ensure constant temperature in solar system
pipeline. In cyclic mode, main solar system pump CP-1 is turned on for 10 minutes in 30 minutes interval
during period from 6 - 10 AM and 5 - 8 PM. During cyclic operation, utilization of solar heat for DHW
heating has priority over utilization of heat for running ACH generator. Consequences of that strategy will be
discussed later in this paper.

Cooling season
During cooling season, solar cooling has priority for utilization of heat from solar collectors. Temperature in
solar system is measured on the one group of solar collectors (sensor TI1) and heated fluid outlet pipeline
(sensor TI2). If the water temperature at the either of the sensors is 10 K above temperature at bottom of tank
S-3 (sensor TI3), the pumps CP-1 and CP-5 are turned on, control valve RV-1 is in position to heat exchanger
HX-3 and heat is transferred to storage tank S-3.
In case of too high temperature in storage tank S-3 or in case of cyclic operation, control system allows solar
heat to be used for DHW heating. During cyclic operation, DHW heating pump CP-2 is turned on if the
temperature difference of 10 K between solar collector and storage tank S-1 is achieved. When the
temperature in storage tank S-3 reaches 95°C, heat from solar collectors is transferred to heat exchanger HX-1
and DHW storage tank S-1 (sensor TI4) until temperature in tank S-3 falls below 90°C. To prevent solar
collector overheating in case of excess solar heat and reduced DHW consumption, solar DHW tank volume
can be expanded by adding the volume of tank S-2 by simply turning on the pump CP-3.
ACH is on/off controlled. To set ACH in operation two requirements must be fulfilled:
1. Temperature at top of hot water tank S-3 (TI22) must be above 70°C.
2. Temperature of cold water tank S-4 (TI23) must be above 20°C.
Operation limits for generator inlet temperature are 65 and 95 °C. Generator inlet temperature is controlled by
control valve RV-4 in range 80-85°C, thus not allowing operation with temperatures above 85°C. If
temperature at the outlet of evaporator (TI16) falls below 6°C, ACH is turned off.
Fan coils are set in operation through one of three signals from cooling thermostats located in conditioned
space and set to maintain 26°C.

Heating season
During heating season, the system control is much simpler. Solar system is used only for DHW heating. In
this case pumps CP-1 and CP-2 are turned on whenever temperature in solar collectors (TI1 or TI2) is 10 K
higher than the temperature in the storage tank S-1 (TI-4).
3. Simulation model
The developed detailed TRNSYS simulation model of presented system is shown in Figure 2. The model
consists of more than 80 components which represent mathematical models of equipment installed in system
with respect to all equipment characteristics required for detailed system simulation and unsteady system
analysis. By introducing numerical dynamic whole system simulation, it is possible to achieve comprehensive
results which can lead to better understanding of system transient operation and influence of working
parameters. As a result, it indicates insight in system temperature variations which occur with control system
operation and external boundary conditions.
System model is developed by application of multiple validated types from standard TRNSYS and TESS
libraries. In the following, main simulation models are briefly described.

Solar collectors: The used model of evacuated tube solar collectors was Type 538 from TESS library [26].
Collector efficiency is based on Hottel – Whillier equation as a function of collector and ambient temperature
and can be written as:
  amb   amb  2
  a0  a1   a2  (1)
The coefficient a0 is solar collector optical efficiency at normal incidence angle (a0 = 0.72), a1 and a2 are heat
loss coefficients (a1 = 1.21, a2 = 0.0075), ϑ represents average collector temperature, while ϑamb represents the
ambient temperature. Model comprises collector thermal mass depending on number of solar collectors which
could be connected serial or parallel. Optical non-symmetricity of evacuated tube solar collectors is
considered by introducing transversal and longitudinal angle modifiers (IAM).
Absorption chiller: Single stage absorption chiller model is based on modified standard Type 107 model [27].
In the standard model available cooling capacity and performance of the chiller is calculated using chilled
water set point temperature and inlet temperatures of cooling and hot water, instead of chilled water inlet
temperature (besides inlet temperatures of cooling and hot water). The model of absorption chiller installed in
presented pilot plant is designed and optimized for chilled water outlet temperature of 7°C, but at higher
chilled water outlet temperatures the cooling capacity is slightly increased than nominal. Including this
capacity variation can be beneficial to consider in a detailed simulation model like the one hereby presented.
To overcome this issue, the original code is modified and recompiled using FORTRAN compiler in a way that
the new model now uses three inlet water temperatures (hot water, cooling water, chilled water) to approach
normalized performance data file with cooling capacity and generator capacity. Normalized performance data
file is created according to technical data from manufacturer’s selection software [28].
Thermal storage: For thermal storage, constant volume cylindrical storage tank with a vertical configuration
from model Type 534 is considered [29]. Simulation of storage tanks is based on assumption that the tanks are
divided into isothermal temperature nodes where the degree of stratification is specified through the number
of nodes. The fluid in the storage tank interacts with the environment through thermal losses or gains through
tank shell and with flow streams that pass into and out of the storage tank.
Pipeline: Distribution heat loses are calculated with pipe model Type 709 [30]. This component models the
thermal behavior of fluid flow in a pipe using variable size segments of fluid. For heat loss calculation, outer
surface convection coefficient and loss temperature for node depending on the pipe position and the fluid
physical characteristics as well as characteristics of pipe and insulation material are provided.
Heat exchangers: Plate type heat exchangers installed in system are simulated using zero capacitance sensible
heat exchanger model Type 5b [27]. For the given source and load side inlet temperatures and flow rates, the
effectiveness is calculated for a given fixed value of the overall heat transfer coefficient.
Cooling tower: Open circuit cooling tower is simulated with model Type 51 from standard library. A water
stream is in direct contact with an air stream and it is cooled as a result of sensible heat transfer due to
temperature differences with the air and mass transfer from evaporation to the air. In this case, the
performance of a single cell counter flow cooling tower with sump is modeled by using the coefficients of the
mass transfer correlation according to [31]: mass transfer constant c = 1.44 and mass transfer exponent n = -
Pumps: While all the variable speed pumps in the system are set to design fluid flows, TESS model Type 654
of constant speed pump is used. This model maintains a constant fluid outlet mass flow rate. Starting and
stopping characteristics and pressure drop effects are neglected.
Figure 2 Solar absorption cooling and heating system simulation model diagram (2-column fitting image)

4. Results and discussion

4.1 Measurements and model validation
Validation of the simulation model is carried out by comparing simulation results to experimental
measurements. Performance of SHC system is monitored and recorded in period from June to August 2015.
From this period, a series from 7th to 13th August 2015 is extracted and selected for validation as it represents
7 typical summer days with balanced cooling load and irradiated solar energy. It is important to emphasize
that the validation is carried out on a level of complete SHC system where the boundary conditions of
accumulation masses (solar collector, cooling tower, pipes and storage tanks) were set for initial time step and
for the following time steps simulation used only measured meteorological boundary conditions (air
temperature, relative humidity, atmospheric pressure, total solar horizontal radiation), DHW consumption and
inlet cold water temperatures, for which the simulation mathematical models and control system calculated
states at every point of system (e.g. temperatures in storage tanks, inlet and outlet temperatures at ACH, heat
exchangers etc.). In comparison with validation of single system component which is common in available
literature, the applied approach takes into account simulation control system and interaction between system
components (e.g. solar collectors, pipelines, storage tanks and ACH) which operate as a whole.
In calibration phase of simulation model, special caution was taken to select the simulation time-step. The
initial simulations were carried with simulation time-step of 60 seconds, but the comparison of simulated and
measured data indicated that complex system control in operation with selected simulation time-step results
with discrepancy between measured and simulated results, particularly through greater difference in
exchanged heat at heat exchangers, temperatures in system and thus impact on operation of absorption chiller.
By inspection of control system at the SHC installation, it is determined that run time and reset time operating
intervals of controllers are set to 10 seconds, so lowering the simulation time-step was a valid action for
lowering discrepancy between measurements and simulation results. Results in the following are averaged or
integrated over greater time interval, depending on the presented data. Main parameters which are compared
and presented are as follows:
1) solar system - temperatures in solar collectors and storage tanks,
2) absorption chiller - inlet and outlet temperatures, heat transfer rates and daily exchanged heat at
generator, evaporator and condenser-absorber, water consumption due to evaporation in cooling
3) heat exchangers - heat transfer rates, daily sum of exchanged heat,
4) DHW - temperatures of storage tanks, heat transfer rates,
5) SHC system - electrical energy consumption and efficiency.
Hourly variation of temperatures and exchanged heat in the system are presented for 8th of August continued
by integrated heat for considered period. Comparison of the simulated and measured temperatures in the solar
system with storage tanks is presented in Figure 3. From 6 to 10 AM and 5 to 8 PM solar system works in
cyclic operation as it can be seen from Figure 4. Due to low solar radiation and higher temperature in the tank
S-3 compared to the tank S-1, heat from solar collectors is transferred to the tank S-1, but only marginally
increases DHW water temperature. Consumption of DHW and tank volume of 2 m3 doesn’t allow reaching
higher temperatures. DHW from tank S-2 preheated by ACH waste heat that enters at cold water inlet into the
tank S-1 and higher ambient temperature in machine room cause constant slightly increased temperature in
storage tank S-1 during the day. Water in tank S-3 cools down during the night to approximately 60°C, but in
the morning, as soon as it reaches 70°C ACH is set in operation.
It can be expected that if the cyclic operation of SHC system would not been enabled, temperature in storage
tank S-3 would earlier reach required temperature for running ACH and more operating hours of ACH would
be possible. This possibility was further analyzed and presented in this paper after validation of simulation
There is noticeable small temperature drop in the tank S3 at time 10:30 AM due to ACH start (Figure 3). As
soon as the ACH starts, the temperature of water in the tank keeps rising as the installed solar collector area at
high solar radiation produces heat which exceeds the ACH generator needs.
Solar collector (sim) Solar collector
Storage S-3 (meas)
Temperature [ C]

60 Storage S-3 (sim)

40 Storage S-1 (meas)

20 Storage S-1 (sim)
12 AM 4 AM 8 AM 12 PM 4 PM 8 PM 12 AM

Figure 3 Temperatures in solar system and connected storage tanks (single column fitting image)
50 HX-3,meas.
45 HX-1,sim.
Heat transfer rate [kW]

S3_m S3_s S1_m S1_s
7 AM 9 AM 11 AM 1 PM 3 PM 5 PM 7 PM

Figure 4 Heat transfer rates of solar heat exchangers (single column fitting image)
Figure 5 present comparison of simulated and measured inlet and outlet temperatures at ACH. In periods with
no ACH operation, temperature of water in pipes connected to ACH reaches the temperature of the
surroundings. ACH starts as soon as the temperature at top of hot water tank S-3 reaches 70°C. Generator inlet
temperature is meant to be controlled by control valve RV-4 in range 80-85°C, but in order to utilize solar
heat as soon as possible ACH starts operation earlier. Due to the earlier chiller start, the temperature in the
storage tank S-3 doesn’t reach more than 80°C, so the control valve is fully opened. By increasing the
temperature of supply water to generator, the cooling capacity of ACH is increased thus lowering the
temperature in cold water storage tank S-4 and supply and return water to ACH evaporator. Although the
return water from the evaporator reaches 8°C, the water in the tank S-4 doesn’t cool down below 12°C
because the load of cooled space is greater than the ACH cooling capacity. As soon as the temperature at the
top of S-3 reaches down to 65°C, which occurs at presented day at 7:15 PM, ACH is turned off.
80 measured Tgen,pol,mj.
70 Tgen,pol,sim.
Temperature [ C]


50 no operation solar cooling no operation





8 AM 10 AM 12 PM 2 PM 4 PM 6 PM 8 PM 10 PM 12 AM

Figure 5 Inlet and outlet water temperatures at the absorption chiller (2-column fitting image)
While the applied black box ACH model doesn’t consider thermal inertia, the cooling effect at evaporator in
simulation model is reached immediately after machine start (Figure 6). This delay in evaporator effect start is
cause of difference of simulated and measured instantaneous values of capacity which is continued during
later hours of operation. Recorded data from heat meters show also some oscillations in heat transfer rates,
while simulation results do not have such intensity of oscillations. These measured results occur as result of
proportional control of heat rejection temperature. Figure 7 presents distribution of waste heat from condenser
and absorber which is transferred either to cooling tower or to heat exchanger HX-2. From the enclosed data it
is apparent that the daily profiles of simulated and measured heat transfer rates are close. As the cold water
brought to the S-2 tank from the water supply has temperature in range from 20 to 25 °C due to long
distribution pipelines buried in ground, high summer soil temperatures and low DHW consumption, the heat
used for preheating is small compared to the total amount of available heat.

Rejected (meas.)
40 Rejected (sim.)
Heat transfer rate [kW]

Generator (sim.)
Generator (meas.)
Evaporator (sim.)
Evaporator (meas.)
8 AM 10 AM 12 PM 2 PM 4 PM 6 PM 8 PM
Figure 6 Exchanged heat at absorption chiller (single column fitting image)

40 HX-2,sim.
35 CT,meas.
Heat transfer rate [kW]

7 AM 9 AM 11 AM 1 PM 3 PM 5 PM 7 PM 9 PM

Figure 7 Heat transfer rates at ACH condenser and absorber - recovered at heat exchanger (HX-2) and rejected
at cooling tower (CT) (single column fitting image)
Figure 8 presents exchanged heat in solar system and ACH in period from 7th to 13th August 2015 integrated
in 24-hour intervals. Comparison shows good agreement of exchanged heat and satisfactory accuracy of
simulation model. Simulated useful heat from solar collectors deviates between 1 to 7% depending on the day,
while the sum for considered period differs only 3%. Simulated to measured values of solar heat utilized for
storage S-3 heating differ only 5% for daily values and less than 3% for considered period.

HX-1 (meas) HX-1 (sim) HX-2 (meas) HX-2 (sim) HX-3 (meas) HX-3 (sim)

Heat [kWh]



1 7 Aug
2 8 Aug
3 9 Aug
4 10 Aug
5 11 Aug
6 12 Aug
7 13
Generator (meas) Generator (sim) Evaporator (meas) Evaporator (sim) Rejected (meas) Rejected (sim)
Heat [kWh]

Aug1 7 Aug
2 8 Aug
39 Aug4 10 Aug5 11 Aug6 12 Aug713

Figure 8 Summarized exchanged heat at heat exchangers and ACH for characteristic week (2-column fitting
Several series of simulation proved that control system strategy, controller temperature difference and position
of temperature sensors have significant impact on used thermal energy and its distribution within the system.
For the presented day (8th of August), only 19.7 kWh or 7% of total available waste heat (280.1 kWh) is
utilized for DHW preheating via HX-2. This minor utilization of waste heat for DHW preheating is caused by
unexpectedly low DHW consumption and thus caused water stagnation in rather long distribution pipeline
where cold water reaches ambient temperature of 20 - 30° C and enters the tank S-2. While the water from
condenser and absorber is 33°C, not much of waste heat can be utilized. By application of the presented
simulation model this issue will be further investigated in the present paper.
Water consumption in the cooling tower is monitored through simple mechanical flow meter which sends a
signal to acquisition system for every 0.1 m3 of consumed water. The daily sums of consumed water are
presented in Table 3. Monitoring and simulated data show good agreement for daily consumptions and total
consumption for considered period.
Table 3 Water consumption due to evaporation in cooling tower
Water consumption
Measured Simulated
Aug 7 0.5 m3 0.44 m3
Aug 8 0.3 m 0.34 m3
Aug 9 0.4 m 0.43 m3
Aug 10 0.4 m 0.42 m3
Aug 11 0.4 m3 0.36 m3
Aug 12 0.4 m 0.43 m3
Aug 13 0.4 m 0.43 m3
Total 2.8 m3 2.84 m3

The common way to express performance of ACH is energy efficiency ratio EER which is calculated as:
EER  Qevap / Qgen (2)
where Qevap is heat at evaporator and Qgen heat at generator. From presented daily sums of exchanged heat, the
daily average EER can be easily calculated with value 0.7, which is expected and acceptable value for a single
stage absorption chiller.
This SHC system cannot operate without auxiliary electrical energy, which is hereby needed for running
circulating pumps, ACH internal solution pump and cooling tower fan.
All the circulating pumps in the system are equipped with unit which calculates power consumption from
pump rotation speed. This consumption of energy from pumps as well as ACH internal energy and cooling
tower fan energy consumption are monitored and transmitted to data acquisition system. Installed power for 6
circulating pumps, ACH and cooling tower is 3.75 kW, but due to frequency control all the pumps are set to
design flows and thus the maximum power drain from system is reduced to 1.6 kW of which 0.2 kW make
primary and secondary solar pumps (CP-1 and CP-5). Figure 9 presents measured heat at generator and
evaporator and electrical power for running ACH and solar pumps. Current value of ACH energy efficiency
ratio is calculated as ratio of current value of evaporator to generator heat. The measured ambient temperature
is also presented, but due to well sized heat rejection system even for presented summer day with high
ambient temperature shows no influence on ACH performance.
Figure 9 Monitoring data of heat transfer rates at ACH, electrical power needed for cooling, ACH efficiency,
and ambient temperature (2-column fitting image)
Maximal electrical power of equipment for running ACH system is 1.4 kW of which 0.5 kW is power for
running the cooling tower fan. It is apparent that control of cooling tower fan has significant influence on
system efficiency. Until the ACH reaches maximum cooling capacity, for which higher generator temperature
is required, ACH auxiliary equipment operates in partial load. Consequently, frequency controller decreases
cooling tower fan speed to maintain temperature of cooling water in the set range and thereby reduces power
consumption. Also, when the SC system starts, cold water is not cool enough to achieve efficient cooling and
air dehumidification at fan coils, therefore pump is set to off until it reaches 15°C. During the hours with
greater ambient temperature, greater solar irradiation and thus higher temperature at generator inlet, system
operates at maximum capacity and peak electrical consumption. EER of ACH at part load operation can be
low as 0,5, but as soon as the temperatures at generator rises beyond 75°C, EER goes up to 0.76.
If the values are summarized in 24-hour interval, to produce 116 kWh of cooling energy, 167 kWh heat at
generator, 11 kWh of electrical energy for running the ACH and additional 1.5 kWh for running solar system
are needed. Similar performance characterizes the rest of days in the representative week. In a case when the
frequency controller for cooling tower isn’t provided in the system, auxiliary energy consumption for the
presented summer day would be 12 kWh. The difference isn’t large while for presented summer day ambient
temperature was rather high and constant, thus cooling tower operated most of the time at full speed.
The presented simulation and measurement data show good agreement. It can be concluded that the
simulation model is appropriate to be used as a tool for evaluating performance and possible improvements of
SHC system. At this state of the project, monitoring of electrical energy consumption for split type air
conditioners is not provided, therefore a solar fraction for cooling cannot be calculated from the measurements
or simulation results provided in the paper. Future research based on this paper will include dynamic
simulation of solar heating and cooling system expanded with multizone building model, therefore it will be
possible to estimate a solar fraction for cooling of this system.

4.2 System running costs

Table 4 shows summary of measured totals for SHC system during cooling season in 2015. Solar collectors
utilized 55% of total irradiated solar energy. Due to allowed cycling operation during cooling operation,
which allows DHW heating even in cases when demand for heating storage tank S-3 exists, 16% of utilized
heat at solar collectors is used for DHW heating and the rest is transferred to storage tank S-3 for running
ACH. Storage tank losses cause that 92% of transferred heat is used at ACH generator. Average seasonal EER
calculated from measurement results from the season 2015. is 0.68 which is slightly lower than from the
characteristic week data used for validation.
Maintenance costs aren’t registered so far on this installation and they will be neglected in the following. With
electricity price in EU in range between 0.096 – 0.305 €/kWh [32], Croatia has one of the lowest prices in EU
with 0.12 €/kWh. Total running costs for the presented season includes cost for electrical energy (107.5 €) and
cost for water consumption due to evaporation in cooling tower and treatment (76.2 €) calculated with specific
price 2 €/m3. Specific running costs are 0.0225 €/kWh. It is apparent that cost for evaporated water contributes
with 42% in running costs, but in the case when consumption dynamics and system design enable to use the
major part of waste heat for DHW heating, water consumption would be lower and thus the specific price. In
comparison, split type air conditioner with average seasonal energy efficiency ratio of 4,85 (B class unit) [33]
would produce cooling energy at price 0.0247 €/kWh.
The running costs participate only in small share in SHC system lifetime costs. Actual investment costs for
SHC system are rather high, which often results with the payback period higher than system lifetime [9].
Hereby presented measurements and simulations conclude only cooling operation during summer, but the
system is also used for DHW heating purpose during the winter and this contribution isn’t negligible. Future
work based on year-round operation of the system will be appropriate for reliable assessment of the total price
of produced energy.

Table 4 Monitoring data of SHC system totals during 2015

Esol EHX-1 EHX-3 Egen Eevap Eaux Vw
28242 kWh 2534 kWh 12939 kWh 11878 kWh 8117 kWh 896 kWh 38.1 m3
4.3 Improvement of system performance
Cyclic operation
It was expected that cyclic operation of solar system has unfavorable effect of decreased heat transfered to
storage tank S-3 which caused reduced number of ACH operating hours and increased heat loss in pipelines.
Therefore, disabling cyclic operation of solar system is analyzed. The control system in simulation model is
modified and new simulation is carried out for a representative week. Results are presented in Table 5 and
Figure 10 for case 1 – cyclic operation ON and case 2 - cyclic operation OFF.
Table 5 Cyclic operation effect (comparison of system totals)
Case 1 Case 2
(cyclic operation (cyclic operation
Esol 2686 kWh 2686 kWh
EHX-1 152 kWh -
EHX-3 1368 kWh 1412 kWh
Egen 1285 kWh 1307 kWh
Eevap 891 kWh 906 kWh
Eaux 98 kWh 100 kWh

Although expectation connected with removing cyclic operation were that it will reduce energy losses due to
reduced time with higher temperatures in pipes, opposite outcome happened. From the presented data it is
visible that: higher temperature in solar collectors causes solar collector efficiency drop from 56.6% (case 1)
to 52.6% (case 2), the number of operating hours is barely affected, it is possible to produce just slightly more
cooling energy and utilization of solar energy for DHW heating vanished (Figure 10). It can be concluded that
this cycling operation has favorable effect on solar system efficiency.

Generator (case 1)
45 Generator (case 2)
Condenser - absorber (case 1)
40 Condenser - absorber (case 2)
Heat transfer rate [kW]

35 Evaporator (case 1)
Evaporator (case 2)
8:00 AM 10:00 AM 12:00 PM 2:00 PM 4:00 PM 6:00 PM 8:00 PM

Figure 10 System simulation without cyclic operation - hourly variation of heat transfer rates at ACH (2-
column fitting image)
Condenser and absorber heat recovery for DHW heating
In present system configuration, low utilization of waste heat for DHW preheating has the consequence of
increased cooling tower water consumption and thus connected operation costs. Only 8% of total daily
available heat from ACH is utilized for DHW preheating, while the rest is rejected at cooling tower. DHW is
heated and stored in tanks S-1 and S-2 and further distributed in three hospital wards (kitchen, restaurant with
capacity of 250 guests and adjacent accommodation residences with 95 beds) where it is reheated to 60°C.
DHW consumption at full occupancy is monitored and used to extract load profile (Consumption A) presented
in Figure 11. Consumption B represents one of alternative consumption profiles which is close to originally
accepted design parameters of the system.
Consumption A
Consumption B
Volume [m3]

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23

Figure 11 Analyzed DHW load profiles (A – present, B – hypothetic) (single column fitting image)
Although the total number of consumers is such that high DHW consumption could be expected, average
daily DHW consumption is only 2.57 m3 which gives very low specific consumption of approximately 10
l/day for restaurant capacity or 27 l/day per guest in accommodation capacity. If the daily consumption is
calculated using specific consumptions from design guidelines (4 to 20 liter/day per guest in restaurant, 25 to
50 liter/day per guest in accommodation residence) [34] as it has been done in design project, it would range
from 3.37 m3 to 9.75 m3 per day. The measured specific consumption differs significantly from expected
consumption, mainly due to fact that majority of hospital patients use hot water in other wards during therapy.
This special case has the consequence of water consumption which would otherwise be consumed in the
system, but here it is not registered.
Temperatures at storage tank S-1 (TI4), storage tank S-2 (TI5), the outlet of condenser and absorber (TI14)
and cold water inlet (TI8) are monitored and presented in Figure 12. It is evident that due to low DHW
consumption cold water (TI8) stagnates in rather long distribution pipelines and reaches ambient temperature.
With increase of consumption in morning hours, water temperature drops to 15–20 °C, while minimum
expected cold water temperature of 12°C occurs only temporarily. The heat exchanger HX-2 is designed with
wider LMTD (6.95 K), so as a consequence water at storage tank S-2 (TI5) reaches 31°C only during
afternoon hours.
With minimal consumption and high temperature in storage tank S-2 during afternoon, the utilization of heat
is decreased, which is apparent from Figure 7. Increased temperature of cold water entering storage tanks S-2
and low specific DHW consumption are main reasons for low heat recovery from condenser and absorber.
Some improvements could also be achieved by installing heat exchanger with larger surface area and thus
lower LMTD.

Figure 12 Temperatures in condenser – absorber heat recovery for DHW system (2-column fitting image)
Table 6 presents summary of analyses for condenser – absorber heat recovery carried on dynamic simulation
model in the boundary conditions of the representative week. Case 1 represents present state of system. In
Case 2 impact of heat exchanger HX-2 design parameters through heat exchangers with narrower LMTD is
analyzed on present state water consumption. As Trnsys Type 5b counter-flow heat exchanger integrated in
system dynamic simulation model recognizes overall heat transfer coefficient as guiding value for calculating
heat exchanger performance, the new values of overall heat transfer coefficient are determined as Q/LMTD
where Q is design heat transfer rate of heat exchanger (43 kW) and LMTD logarithmic mean temperature
difference calculated from flow design temperatures. Case 3 represents a special scenario with increased
DHW consumption (Consumption B) as shown in Figure 11 where is by additional consumption of 0,5 m3
every hour from 7 AM to 8 PM daily consumption of DHW increased to approximately 9,6 m3 according to
originally accepted design parameters. Cold water distribution pipeline to storage tank S-3 is simulated by
TRNSYS pipe model Type 709 with constant inlet temperature 12°C, ambient temperature 30°C and 50 m
pipeline length. Case 4 represents improved heat exchanger HX-2 as in Case 2 but with increased DHW
consumption (Consumption B) as in Case 3.
Table 6 Impact of DHW consumption, cold water temperature and heat exchanger design parameters on
system operation (simulated totals for considered week)
Case 1 Case 2 Case 3 Case 4
DHW consumption
(Figure 11)
HX-2 source side
35/31 °C 35/31 °C 35/31 °C 35/31 °C
HX-2 load side
23/29 °C 28/34 °C 23/29 °C 28/34 °C
Q/LMTD 6185 W/K 23620 W/K 6185 W/K 23620 W/K
Ec-a 1842 kWh 1801 kWh 1785 kWh 1787 kWh
EHX-2 195 kWh 296 kWh 861 kWh 945 kWh
ECT 1647 kWh 1506 kWh 924 kWh 842 kWh
fDHW 10.6 % 16.4 % 48.2 % 52.9 %
Vw 2,84 m3 2.62 kWh 1.90 kWh 1.83 m3
Eaux 88.7 kWh 85.5 kWh 87.5 kWh 84.6 kWh
Eevap 754 kWh 738 kWh 739 kWh 741 kWh
Cooling costs 16,3 € 15,5 € 14,3 € 13,8 €
(in case no heat is 279 kWh 423 kWh 1230 kWh 1350 kWh
utilized at HX-2)
Reduction of costs for
18,1 € 27,5 € 80,1 € 88,0 €
Reduction of total
1,8 € 12,0 € 65,9 € 74,2 €
system running costs

Presented preliminary analyses show that fraction of recovered ACH waste heat for DHW heating fDHW in
present DHW consumption A raises only marginally if the improved heat exchanger with lower LMTD is
considered (Case 2). If the DHW consumption in presented system matched the expected consumption B
according to design guidelines and matched DHW load pattern with ACH operating time (Case 3), 48.2% of
available waste heat would be recovered. Additional improvements of recovered heat fraction and lowered
auxiliary energy consumption are visible in case 4 with lower heat exchanger LMTD. It is expected that
performance in this case would be even better in case of even greater water consumption. In presented
hospital complex such and better results could be achieved by preheating cold water used for DHW purposes
of the entire complex, but it would require construction of centralized DHW heating system.
While the absorber and condenser cooling temperature is maintained at 31°C, the performance of ACH isn’t
compromised and produced cooling energy is rather equal in all cases. Slightly better ACH performance is
achieved in cases 3 and 4 in comparison to cases 1 and 2, while greater DHW consumption and lower cold
water temperature ensures lower requirement of heat at generator and thus better EER. At the same time, due
to decreased operation of cooling tower, auxiliary electrical energy consumption and water consumption due
to evaporation in cooling tower are both reduced, which results in lowered specific cooling energy price. In
case of complete waste heat recovery, water consumption in cooling tower would be eliminated and the price
of produced cooling energy considering only running costs could be lowered to 0.014 €/kWh. Energy that is
recovered at heat exchanger HX-2 would be otherwise produced in central boiler with low total efficiency
resulting mainly from long distribution pipeline. By assuming combined efficiency of oversized boiler and
long distribution pipeline with value 0.7, reduction of heating oil consumption QDHW,h-o is calculated.
Reduction of heating oil costs is calculated with specific price 0.0652 €/kWh and in all of presented cases it
exceeds cooling costs. It can be concluded that recovery of ACH waste heat is beneficial for total system
running costs. Detailed analysis will be performed in all year-round simulations of the system performance
intended to be presented in future analysis and following papers.
5. Conclusions
The performance and design of SHC system set up as a demonstrative pilot plant was experimentally and
numerically investigated. Design parameters and monitoring data from SHC system were used to develop a
dynamic simulation model in TRNSYS environment. Methodology for validation of simulation model on a
level of complete SHC system is proposed. Compared to the validation of single system component, the
applied approach comprises simulation control system and interaction between system components, thus
enables better application of simulation model for further improvements of a particular system.
Preliminary simulations during calibration of simulation model were carried with time-step of 60 seconds, but
the comparison of simulated and measured data indicated that operation of system control with greater
simulation time-step results with discrepancy between measured and simulated results. After that, the
simulation time-step is synchronized with run and reset time operating intervals of controllers installed in
SHC system and set to 10 seconds, which resulted with better data agreement. ACH is simulated using black
box based model which proved to be sufficient method for simulation of SHC system. Some improvements of
the model could be made by including thermal inertia of internal piping and heat exchangers.
The performance of the system has been analyzed through its daily operation, including all the temperatures
and transferred heats in control points in systems. The monitoring and simulation data shows that the system
is well designed and tuned for operation with low auxiliary energy consumption.
The system specific configuration provides the possibility to utilize waste heat from condenser and absorber
for DHW preheating during system cooling operation. Monitoring data indicated that due to unexpected low
DHW consumption, only 8% of heat from condenser and absorber is recovered from available heat. Large
share of rejected heat at cooling tower affects the price of operation by 40% due to compensation of
evaporated water. A set of scenarios with increased DHW consumption and improved heat exchanger
parameters were investigated by application of the presented simulation model. Preliminary analysis shows
possibility for recovery up to 53% of ACH waste heat, reduction of cooling energy price by 15% arising from
influences of changed temperatures of cooling water and cooling water consumption and also reduction of
total system running costs when heating and cooling are both considered.
The proposed configuration shows its full potential in systems where heating load matches the available waste
ACH heat followed by the need for low temperature heat utilization. Hereby, sufficient cooling temperature
for ACH condenser and absorber must be provided so the performance of system isn’t compromised. DHW
preheating, swimming or therapy pools’ heating and utilization as evaporator heat at compression heat pump
for DHW or swimming pool heating represent suitable applications for utilizing ACH waste heat. Validated
dynamic system simulation can lead to answer of economic feasibility for proposed configuration.
High capital cost of SHC system reveal that this type of system isn’t economically viable when applied only
for cooling operation, so improvements of the system like the presented one are welcome.
Further developments of the work presented here will include expanding system simulation model with
multizone building model, altered system design configurations (utilization of solar heat for space heating,
introduction of latent heat storage, auxiliary energy sources for running absorption chiller) and expanded
utilization of waste heat. By expansion of simulation model to multizone building model, it will be possible to
estimate a solar fraction for cooling and to address the share of renewable energy in the system. The chiller's
start operation strategies through lower limit hot water operation temperature start (70°C) and delayed start
with running temperatures above 80°C will also be interesting to compare. Investigations will be aimed to
determine suitability of SHC systems for different types of buildings in all year-round operation in
Mediterranean climate of Adriatic Croatia and to reveal potential of SHC system application in scope of
achieving desired energetic, economic and environmental performance of system.

Research has been funded by European IPA ADRIACOLD project (Diffusion of Cooling and Refreshing
Technologies using the Solar Energy Resource in the Adriatic Regions), by national and local government and
by research support of University of Rijeka.

Declarations of interest: none

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a1 first order coefficient of the solar collector efficiency (W m-2 K-1)

a2 second order coefficient of the solar collector efficiency (W m-2 K-2)
E energy (kWh)
EER energy efficiency ratio (-)
I irradiation on solar collector surface (W/m2)
LMTD logarithmic mean temperature difference (K)
P electrical power (kW)
Q heat transfer rate (kW)
V volume (m3)

 temperature (°C)
η efficiency (-)

ACH absorption chiller
amb ambient
aux auxiliary
c-a condenser – absorber
CT cooling tower
DHW domestic hot water
evap evaporator
gen generator
h-o heating oil
HX heat exchanger
meas measured
SC solar cooling
sim simulated
SHC solar heating and cooling
sol solar
w water
 Experimental and numerical analysis of SHC system in north Adriatic.
 Detailed model validation process at the level of entire system simulation.
 Novel SHC configuration with ACH condenser and absorber heat recovery.
 Presentation of scenario for recovery up to 53% of waste condenser and absorber heat.
 15% reduction of cooling energy price and reduction of total system running costs in SHC systems
with cooling tower.