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Optimal design of an atmospheric water generator (AWG) based on thermo-electric

cooler (TEC) for drought in rural area


Sri Suryaningsih, and Otong Nurhilal

Citation: AIP Conference Proceedings 1712, 030009 (2016); doi: 10.1063/1.4941874


View online: https://doi.org/10.1063/1.4941874
View Table of Contents: http://aip.scitation.org/toc/apc/1712/1
Published by the American Institute of Physics

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Optimal Design of an Atmospheric Water Generator (AWG)
Based on Thermo-Electric Cooler (TEC) for Drought in
Rural Area
Sri Suryaningsiha) and Otong Nurhilalb)

Department of Physics, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Science, Padjadjaran University


Jalan Raya Bandung-Sumedang km 21 Jatinangor 45363, West Java, Indonesia
a)
Correspondingauthor: sri@phys.unpad.ac.id
b)
otong.nurhilal@phys.unpad.ac.id

Abstract. Drinking water availability is a major issue in some rural area in Indonesia during the summer season due to
lack of rainfall, which peoples in this area have to fetch the water a few kilometers away from home. The Atmospheric
Water Generator (AWG) is one of the alternative solution for fresh water recovery from atmosphere which is directly
condensed the moisture content of water vapor from the air. This paper presents the method to develop a prototype of an
AWG based on Thermo-electric cooler (TEC) that used 12 Volt DC, hence its suitability for using renewable energy
resource. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) is utilized to optimize the design process in the flow region only, it’s not
suitable for recent CFD software to use in Multi physics, because inaccuracy, cost and time saving. Some parameters
such as temperature, moisture content, air flow, pressure, form of air flow channel and the water productivity per unit
input of energy are to be considered. The result is presented as an experimental prototype of an AWG based on TEC and
compared with other conventional commercial products.

INTRODUCTION
There are two major problems in rural areas in Indonesia: the problem of shortage of drinking water in the
summer and the problem of the scarcity of electrical energy. The Atmospheric Water Generator (AWG) is one of the
proposed alternatives to solve this problem by directly condensed the moisture content of water vapor from the air.
In case of the lack of electrical energy, the use of AWG based on TEC is very suitable to apply in these conditions.
Thermo-electric cooler using a Peltier module as a heat pump and has advantages compared to conventional
systems: In conventional system the compressor units deal with this situation by being switched on for short periods
of time, but Peltier devices can be operated continuously at the optimum current [1], this allows them to use current
source more efficient and adaptable driven by renewable energy resources. Without a renewable energy supply, the
claim of environmental superiority is not supported by quantitative analysis [2].
The main purposes of this study is to build the experimental prototype of an AWG device that covered two main
objectives: suitability for power driven by renewable energy resource and meeting the minimum quantity of WHO
drinking water standard (2.5 L/capita-day) [3].

METHODOLOGY

The Concept of an AWG based on TEC


The block diagram of the overall system of the AWG based on TEC is presented in Fig. 1. The study domain is
covered by a dash line that consist of the PWM controller circuit and air fan, an array of Peltier modules, the hot

2nd Padjadjaran International Physics Symposium 2015 (PIPS-2015)


AIP Conf. Proc. 1712, 030009-1–030009-6; doi: 10.1063/1.4941874
© 2016 AIP Publishing LLC 978-0-7354-1359-7/$30.00

030009-1
side channel as radiator, the blade valve to control hot air flowed into the condenser and the cold side channel as a
condenser.

FIGURE 1. The block diagram of the AWG device based on TEC.

The air contains water vapor, the amount of mass of water vapor in the air per unit volume depending on the
temperature and relative humidity. It is given by

଴Ǥ଺ଶଶ௘
F ൌ ቂ௉ ቃ ͳͲͲͲ (1)
ೞ೟ೌ ି௘

for Psta, e and Td is given by

ଶଽଷି଴Ǥ଴଴଺ହாಽ ହǤଶ଺
ܲ௦௧௔ ൌ ͳͲͳ͵ʹǤͷ ൈ ቂ ቃ (2)
ଶଽଷ

ଵ଻Ǥଶ଻்೏
݁ ൌ ͲǤ͸ͳͲͺ݁‫ ݌ݔ‬ቔ ቕ (3)
்೏ ାଶଷ଻Ǥଷ

௟௡ሺோு Τଵ଴଴ሻ ் ௟௡ሺோு Τଵ଴଴ሻ ்


ܶௗ ൌ ʹ͵͹Ǥ͵ ቂ ൅ ቃൗͳ െ ቂ ൅ ቃ (4)
ଵ଻Ǥଶ଻ ଶଷ଻Ǥଷା் ଵ଻Ǥଶ଻ ଶଷ଻Ǥଷା்

where: F is concentration of mass (g/m3), Psta is station pressure (mBar), EL is elevation above the sea level (m), e is
actual vapor pressure (mBar), Td is dew point temperature (qC), T is ambient temperature (qC) and RH is relative
humidity (%).
Moist air flowed into the AWG using BLDC (Brushless DC) fan with a maximum capacity of 190 CFM.The fan
can be operated at 800-2000 RPM and controlled by a PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) circuit module. In this case,
assume CFM varies linearly with RPM, the fan capacity related to frequency can be formulated as follows

ܳ௙௥௘௤ ൌ ͲǤͲ͵ܳ௠௔௫ ݂ (5)

where: Qfreq is fan capacity related to the PWM frequency (CFM), Qmax is maximum fan capacity (CFM), f is
frequency (Hz).
The TEC using Peltier modules as a heat pump that fed directly by 12 Volt DC power supply. The TEC modules
will be extracting heat from the air flowing along the cold side channel and rejecting this heat at the hot side channel
of the modules. Heat rejected into the environment (Qh) required electric power (Pel) that can be formulated as

ܳ௛ ൌ ܲ௘௟ ൅ ܳ௖ (6)

for Qc is cooling capacity given by

030009-2

ܳ௖ ൌ ሺ‫ܶߙܫ‬௖ ሻ െ ቂ ሺ‫ ܫ‬ଶ ܴሻቃ െ ሾ‫ܥ‬ሺܶ௛ െ ܶ௖ ሻሿ (7)

where: I is current (A), Tc is cold side temperature (K), Th is hot side temperature (K), C is thermal conductance
between hot and cold side (W/K) and D is Siebeck coefficient (V/K).
The humid air source is needed to supply the cold side channel for condensation process. According to Eq. (1),
the mass of the water vapor will be increased by increasing the air temperature. Thus, the blade valve is needed to
control the airflow into the cold side channel from the excess of air temperature and velocity that can re-evaporate
the water grain.The amount of water condensate obtained during a period of time is given Eq. (8)

݉௖௢௡ௗ ൌ ͲǤͲͲͲͶ͹ͳͻͶ͹ͶͶ͵ܳ௙௥௘௤ ൫F௔௜௥ି௜௡ ൅ F௔௜௥ି௢௨௧ ൯ο‫ݐ‬ (8)

where: mcond is mass of condensated water (g), Fair-in is concentration of mass at inlet (g/m3), Fair-out is concentration
of mass at outlet(g/m3), 't is unit time in second.

Design Approach
A number of 3D models of AWG devices were built, rebuild or refined through the simulation to get the
appropriate model. The model shown in this paper is the best model selected for building the prototype and doing
the experiments. The Comsol Multiphysics was used in this study.
The computational model solves the steady-state Navier-Stokes equations which are formulations of mass,
momentum and energy conservation laws for fluid flows. The governing equations for this physics are as follows.

ߩሺ࢛ ή ߘሻ࢛ ൌ ߘ ή ሾെ‫ ࡵ݌‬൅ ߤሺߘ࢛ ൅ ሺߘ࢛ሻ் ሻሿ ൅ ࡲ (9)

ߩߘ ή ሺ࢛ሻ ൌ Ͳ (10)

where CU is the density, u is the velocity vector, p is the pressure, μ is the dynamic viscosity, F is the body force
vector and I is the unit tensor, T is absolute temperature. Heat transfer in fluids are shown as

ߩ‫ܥ‬௣ ࢛ ή ߘܶ ൌ ߘ ή  ሺ݇ߘܶሻ ൅ ܳ ൅ ܳ௩ௗ ൅ ܳ௣ (11)

Where Cp is the specific heat capacity at constant pressure, k is the thermal conductivity, Qheat sources other than
viscous heating.

(a) (b) (c)


FIGURE 2. Simulation of the AWG device model: distribution of air velocity in m/s (a), distribution of temperature in qC (b),
distribution of pressure in mBar (c).

030009-3
The boundary is assigned as a no-slip, the no-slip condition of viscous fluid states that at a solid boundary, the
fluid will have zero velocity relative to the boundary. The thermal insulation node is the default boundary condition
that means there is no heat flux across the boundary: The initial temperature is set as 293.15 K, the hot side heat sink
temperature is 333.15 K and the cold side heat sink temperature is 283.15 K.
Figure 2 (a) shows the distribution of air flow velocity inside the channel. The design uses the concept of
increasing the velocity of moving air in the hot side channel by reducing the volume around the radiator. This will
help to increase the heat rejected from the radiator. The hot air (Fig. 2b) that contain more vapor cause by heating
than flowed back into the environment. Some of the hot air is flowing and controlled by a blade valve to enter the
cold side channel for condensation. As shown in Fig. 2(c),the blade valve also limiting the pressure of moving air.
The excess of velocity, temperature and pressure of the moving air can cause lowering the condensation process.

Experimental Prototype
Figure 3 shows the 3D model design of the AWG (Fig.3 (a)) and the contruction of the experimental prototype of
the AWG device (Fig 2 (c)). This device using 4 units of Peltier module TEC1-12706 in parallel, 1 unit PWM
controllable Brushless DC fan and used 12 Volt DC power requirements. Figure 3 (c) shows the diagram of the
experimental setup, test and measurement of the AWG device

(a) (b) (c))

FIGURE 3. The 3D design model (a), the construction of the experimental prototype (b) and the diagram of the test and
measurement setup(c) of the AWG device.

RESULTS AND ANALYSIS

Test and Measurement


The experiment will test the output of the AWG prototype under the different number of Peltier module used and
at the different airflow condition. To understand the results, the terminology of the test must be defined first as
follows:

x Condensation Ratio (CR), which means water productivity per hour compared to the ideal of water vapor
that incoming air flow can hold per hour (Wh) by the system. The Wh can be calculated by this Eq. (12)

ܹ௛ ൌ ͸Ͳ߯ܳ௙௥௘௤ (12)

x Production Ratio (PR), which mean water productivity per 8 hours (day light) compared to the minimum
quantity of WHO drinking water standard (2.5 L/capita-day). The 8 hours day light means that this AWG
system is predicted to use 1 or 2 square meter of PV solar panel where the solar intensity ideally capture
from 8 am to 4 pm.

030009-4
In Table 1, this AVG produce fresh water up to 0.61 L/hour, at 190 CFM inlet air flow and power consumption
is 125.5 watts. The average ambient temperature along the measurement is 26qC and RH is 60%. The PR = 1.95 that
means almost twice compared to WHO drinking water standard. The CR = 0.14 that means only 14% mass of water
vapor can be condensed compared to the total mass of water vapor that enter the system within an hour.

TABLE 1. Test and measurements


TEC Power PWM Controllef Air Inlet Ambient Air Wh Wp
CR PR
Used. (Watts) Freq. (Hz) CFM 3
(m /h) T(°C) RH (%) (L/h) (L/h)

2 65.52 800 76 129.12 25.3 60 1.57 0.028 0.02 0.09


2 65.52 1200 114 193.69 26 61 2.51 0.050 0.02 0.16
2 65.52 1600 150 254.85 25.5 63 3.31 0.100 0.03 0.32
2 65.52 2000 190 322.81 25.8 58 3.92 0.200 0.05 0.64
4 125.5 800 76 129.12 26 60 1.64 0.320 0.19 1.02
4 125.5 1200 114 193.69 26 59 2.42 0.410 0.17 1.31
4 125.5 1600 150 254.85 26.5 61 3.40 0.490 0.14 1.57
4 125.5 2000 190 322.81 27 62 4.51 0.610 0.14 1.95

In Fig. 4, it is shown that by increasing the air flow capacity the water productivity is increased gradually, but by
increasing the power consumption the water production increased significantly.

0.7
0.61
0.6
Water productivity (L/hour)

0.49
0.5
0.41
65 Watt
0.4
0.32

0.3 125 watt


0.2
0.2
0.1
0.1 0.05
0.028

0
76 114 150 190
Air flow entered the system (CFM)

FIGURE 4.Water production (L/hour) at different air flow (CFM) and different power consumption (Watts).

Comparative Study
This comparison is used to measure the efficiency in units energy consumed per liter of water produced of the
experimental prototype and compared to other competitor model.Unit energi per liter can be calculated using this
Eq. (13)
ሺܲ ο‫ݐ‬ሻൗ
ቂ ௘௟ ͳͲͲͲቃ൘
ܷ௘ ൌ ‫ݓ‬ (13)

where: Ue is unit energy (kJ/L), Pel is power consumption (W), 't is seconds in a day, w is water productivity
(L/day).

030009-5
The performance parameters of this experimental prototype of AWG and three others available commercial
AWG products are compared and summarized in Table 2.The results showed that this experimental prototype of
AWG had given the most desirable results with the best performance in energy consumed (Ue = 739.7 kJ/L) and
minimum in power requirement (Pel = 125 W).

TABLE 2. Performance comparisonofthe three commercial AWG product available and the experimental prototype of
AWG based on TEC.
Performance Test Conditions
AWG Model Water(w) Power (Pel) Energy(Ue) Temp. RH System
(L/day) (W) (kJ/L) (qC) (%)
Dolphin1* 27.5 500 1570.9 30 80 -
Ecoloblue26* 26 1025 3489.4 28 80 -
Air Juicer 4010* 19 500 2281.5 26.7 60 -
AWG- prototype 14.6 125 739.7 26 60 TEC
*Source [4].

CONCLUSIONS
This study succeeds to reach the minimum standard quantity of WHO drinking water consumption. The
production ratio (PR) nearly to 2 that’s mean enough for 2 people consumption. Power consumed by the system is
125 watts, hence the system is suitable for driven by 1 or 2 square meter of the recent technology of PV solar panel.
In comparison to the others AWG device, the authors realize that this system have not complete yet, since the
limited to the study domain. But, by adding a passive filter in the inlet air flow and the water outlet, the system will
be completed. It’s not necessary to add more power because the added system is passive, except and maybe for the
air filter due to the friction happens between air particles and filter membrane, but the authors believe that the added
power is not significant to change the results.
This proposed alternative system will help to solve the drought problem in rural areas where the electrical energy
supply is intermittent, especially in the humid climate area like Indonesia. By running this system for 24 hours and
by using the national electricity grid or using hybrid electrical system, this AWG device also applicable to install in
the urban area for replacing 19 liters bottled water with 14.6 liters fresh water recovery from the atmosphere.

REFERENCES
1. H. J. Goldsmid, Introduction to Thermoelectricity (Springer, New York, 2010), pp. 176-177.
2. G. M. Peters, N. J. Blackburn and M. Armedion, Int. J. Life Cycle Assess. 18 (5), 1149-1157 (2013).
3. P. H. Gleick, Water Int. 21 (2), 83-92 (1996).
4. B. Niewenhuis, C. Shepperly, R. V. Beek and E. V. Kooten, Team 5: Water from Air (9 May 2012).

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