Briefs: solar air-conditioning prototype

As part of the European programme Solera, CEA LITEN researchers recently set up a 4.5-kW solar air-conditioning prototype in the facilities of the INES (French National Institute of Solar Energy) in Chambéry in the French Alps, where the system will be tested for two years. This technology - which is designed for residential and small-scale commercial applications - uses solar collectors to provide heat, which is then provided to an absorption system. This system uses boiling to dissociate a water and lithium bromide solution, allowing the refrigerant (water) to pass from low to high pressure. The cooling distribution system is similar to that of a conventional air conditioner. Extra heat produced by the system is removed to the ground using geothermal probes. For greater simplicity, all the system components (solar combisystems, solar collectors, energy-efficient fan coil units, etc.) are off-the-shelf components. This clean, efficient solution reduces power consumption; what's more, the system is reversible and can supply heat in the winter.