Date of Award

5-22-2016

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Department

Physics

First Advisor

Hans Pfister

Language

English

Abstract

A Solar Air Heater (SAH) is a device that converts solar energy into thermal energy. Solar irradiance enters the SAH through a glazing and heats an absorbing material|in our case several blackened, corrugated aluminum mesh grids. The grids transfer their thermal energy to the passing air. This paper theoretically and experimentally investigates the optimal number of grids to maximize efficiency and minimize the return on investment for our single pass wire mesh grid SAH. A higher number of grids increases the absorption and output temperature, yet also increases ow resistance in the device. Our experimental and theoretical investigation finds that the conversion efficiency and output power of the SAH increases with increasing mass ow rate. We found that five absorber grids led to the highest efficiency values, yet due to the cost of each absorber grid, the shortest ROI is with one grid.

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