The Solar Energy System Laboratory currently has numerous research projects active.
These projects include work in the fields of:
Vacuum Insulation Panels (VIPs)
In our lab we have 3 experimental setups to test VIPs: the Guarded Hot Box, Guarded Hot Plates, and Climate Chambers.
Guarded Hot Box
An experimental set-up used to evaluate the thermal performance of building envelopes at steady-state conditions. The specimen is exposed to simulated indoor and outdoor temperatures to create a temperature difference across the assembly to measure the R-value of the assembly. Other measurements include temperature profile through the assembly, heat fluxes of clear-wall sections and thermal bridges, and air velocity at the interior and exterior surfaces. The specimens include VIPs and other insulation types, which are mounted within a wall section, then installed in the guarded hot box to measure their performance.
Project Lead: Brock Conley
Guarded Hot Plates
Individual VIP and insulation panels can be tested in the guarded hot plate which allows the performance measurement of the single insulation panel.
Multiple VIP panels can be loaded into one of the two climate chambers under controlled conditions with high heat and humidity to simulate aging of the panels. They then can be tested for performance again to measure the performance reduction due to aging.
Project Lead: Tyler Ulmer
Cooling devices can be powered by solar power either by use of the sun to power a photo-voltaic panel or a solar water heater in order to power the unit.
An adsorption chiller uses hot water as its driving force for operation. A thermochemical process allows for cooling to be generated from the presence of hot water. This system can be paired with solar water heaters to eliminate the cost of heating water.
Project Lead: Jordan McNally
Thermal storage can be used to offset peak electricity consumption by shifting the times when cooling or heating occurs to off-peak hours, where the energy is stored and called upon later.
An air-conditioner can be used with ice thermal storage to use the stored thermal energy in the ice to cool air during on-peak electrical period in order to reduce cost and peak loading on the electrical grid.
Project Lead: Chris Baldwin