Performance Characteristics for Solar-Driven Steam Generation System

A Solar-Driven System for Industrial Dehumidification and Steam Generation

Jonathan B. Maxwell and Mark D’Antonio for Zondits, November 28, 2013

Solar-powered energy projects are capturing the attention of the public and investors. Most projects to date have been built either at the utility scale or for single family homes. This presentation highlights a system that can be used for industrial applications to generate low pressure steam used for process heat or to drive an absorption chiller, or both.

Steinway & Sons, the legendary piano manufacturer, installed thirty-eight tracking parabolic trough solar energy collectors on their roof. The collectors generate 330°F pressurized hot water. In summer months, the hot water drives a double-effect absorption chiller and enable humidity management in a part of the piano assembly area that has previously suffered from high scrap and rework rates due to a lack of moisture control. Projected solar-driven cooling is about 50,000 ton-hr/year. When dehumidification is needed and solar resources are not available – about half the time – the dual-fuel chiller will use natural gas for the same effect. Any time dehumidification is not needed and the collectors can generate hot water above 275°F, the hot water will circulate through a steam generator and generate a predicted 900 MMBtu/year of 15-psig steam to offset a portion of the plant’s minimum 1,200 kBtu/hr load. Simultaneous dehumidification and steam generation is possible. Notably, the site location is New York City, a relatively high latitude for such an application.

While there have been over one hundred worldwide installations of solar sourced single-effect absorption cooling, this project is only the fourth U.S. application of solar-sourced hot water driving a double-effect chiller to be reported. At the time of installation it was the largest double-effect application to date by far and the only industrial application. It is also the only application known to use the heat for both steam generation and cooling.

The project was partially funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and federal tax benefits. Construction and equipment installation commenced in the fourth quarter of 2008.

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