DIY Solar Water Heater, Aircon & Dehumidifier

Requested Research

  • Main request. An overall design for a line of solar driven technologies that can be utilized in a small-scale household or office in a humid tropical setting.
  • It must include devices to heat water, cool down the indoor temperature and dehumidify the indoor climate. Preferably the machine becomes a water heater, air conditioner and dehumidifier all-in-one.
  • The techniques must be cheap and simple; everything needs to be found and bought locally and installed on-site, basically by people with minimum technical knowledge.
  • The overall system must be highly efficient, with low maintenance.
  • Do-it-yourself guidelines for assembling, maintenance and calibration of the machine.

Status of Research

Open for students and professionals of Mechanical, Industrial and Product Engineering. Send us an email to request the full assignment sheet via this link.

Past and current research:
2014 – 2015: Kieran Earley, University of Limerick
2015 – 2016: Neil Coffey, University of Limerick

Background: Solar Heating and Solar Cooling

Already in 1878, the French inventor Augustin Mouchot was able to make ice with his solar dish, which he connected to a periodical absorption machine developed by another Frenchman, Edmond Carré.

The principle of absorption cooling is still used, along with other chemically driven cooling technologies, such as solid and liquid desiccant cooling. What they all have in common, is that the external energy required to drive the process comes from solar heat.

We now start to realize the affordability and value of solar heating and solar cooling technologies. Currently a lot of research is going on in the developments of small- and large scale thermally driven heating and cooling technologies, such as absorption chillers, sorption rotors, evaporation coolers, and solid and liquid desiccant cooling systems. It seems these technologies have a better efficiency, and are quite cheaper than for example photo-voltaic systems.

Background: Low-tech Alternatives for Cooling and Heating

Most of these technologies are still being developed and therefore quite expensive. However, it is expected that in the near future, commercially available thermally driven cooling equipment in the range of below 20kW, combined with space and water heating, will find its way to the market.

We are very interested in developing a low-tech and do-it-yourself solution for the lowest income markets. The system must work as a simple air conditioner, and should be offered as a total kit that combines air cooling with water heating. At the same time it should be possible to add moisture to the interior in dry climates, or work as a dehumidifier in humid climates.