Thermal performance of a controllable pavement solar collector prototype with configuration flexibility

Ghalandari, Taher, Baetens, Robin, Verhaert, Ivan, Nasir, Diana SNM, Van den bergh, Wim and Vuye, Cedric (2022) Thermal performance of a controllable pavement solar collector prototype with configuration flexibility. Applied Energy, 313, p. 118908. ISSN (print) 0306-2619


Solar energy harvesting as a renewable and sustainable energy source has been widely investigated in recent years across engineering fields. The use of Pavement Solar Collectors (PSC) can lead to clean energy production, an increase in road safety, prolong the service life of asphalt pavement, and can mitigate the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect. This study describes a controllable large-scale research PSC prototype with high configuration flexibility, and full monitoring capability at the University of Antwerp, Belgium. Since small- or laboratory-scale setups do not reflect the behavior of actual projects, the present paper investigates the thermal response of a large-scale PSC in the Western European climate, including heating load, heat extraction capacity, and asphalt surface and profile temperature changes during heating and cooling experiments. The study shows that a low supply temperature compared to high (14 °C vs. 28 °C) can reduce the depletion rate of the stored thermal energy in borehole thermal energy storage up to 7 times. The sensitivity analysis indicates that an increase in flow rate from laminar to transient regime requires twice as much thermal power compared to the same flow rate changes within transient and turbulent regimes. The maximum average daily efficiency of the PSC could reach 34% with a flow rate of 4 l/min. The experimental results showed that increasing the pipe length from 50 m to 200 m reduces the cumulative power extraction capacity by up to 48%. Furthermore, the PSC system shows great potential in reducing the asphalt surface temperature (up to 12 °C) to mitigate the UHI effects. Finally, the PSC system effectively controls the temperatures of the interface zones to reduce the rutting distress in the summertime and lower the potential of cold thermal crack developments and brittle shear failure behavior in wintertime.

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