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Characterization of an airflow solar window


Integrated building elements, which combine their structural and architectural functions with that of energy generation, are expected to become increasingly important in the future scenario of energy efficient buildings, and they could significantly contribute to the thermal behaviour of the building envelope in order to provide energy savings. A prototype of a building-integrated photovoltaic/thermal (BIPV/T) solar air collector has been built by a Palo Alto start-up company, and consists on a double pane airflow window wall with photovoltaic (PV) louvers embedded in it. The unit is intended to perform the functions of both thermal and electrical generation, as well as light transmission and shading control. In this work, the prototype's performance has been tested in different outdoor conditions and under different airflow speeds, with the aim of investigating its thermal and electrical capabilities. The results presented in this thesis showed an optimal behaviour during the winter, with a maximum air temperature rise (from bottom to top) of about 30°C and average thermal efficiency of 31%. By using inexpensive PV modules with a rated efficiency of 12.5%, an actual electrical efficiency of 7% was recorded under the maximum operating temperatures.

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