In connection to an agreement signed on January 7, 2016 between Rackam-Leprohon and the federal CanmetENERGY research center in Varennes, a solar power plant combined with an ejector-compression system will be installed at CanmetENERGY in 2016.
The solar power plant, which should be operational by the end of the summer, will produce heat and cooling from solar energy. Rackam is the designer and manufacturer, while Leprohon acts as primary contractor and installer. CanmetENERGY is responsible for the design of the ejector system which, activated by solar energy, will enable the system to have the air conditioning option.
The plant, which will be a rooftop installation at CanmetENERGY, will be connected to the Varennes building to meet a portion of the heating and cooling needs. It will also be used to continue research on this technology to improve its performance. With the support of the Accord program, the University of Sherbrooke will also participate in these research projects. The technology in question is based on a parabolic solar concentration field developed by Rackam, combined with the ejector-compressor technology developed by CanmetENERGY. The heat from the solar field activates the ejector-compressor, which then activates the refrigeration circuit. Through this demonstration project, different configurations will be tested in order to optimize the use of ejectors in a solar power plant.
This advanced technology was implemented for the first time in 2015, at the Alouette building of the University of Quebec at the Chicoutimi, Sept-Îles campus. Last November, Rackam received a grant from the Technoclimat program of approximately $ 400,000 for this project. This project falls within the mandate of CanmetENERGY in Varennes, Natural Resources Canada, which consists especially of increasing Canadian expertise in renewable energy and energy efficiency. Through this collaboration, CanmetENERGY supports Rackam in improving solar heating and cooling technology, for which the market potential is important, notably abroad. So this is a good show of recognition for Rackam, who will also use the facility as a technological showcase for investors and customers.
Interview with Sophie Hosatte - Ducassy, Director - Buildings Group CanmetENERGY:
Rackam: Ms. Hosatte-Ducassy, how is air conditioning technology generated by the sun's heat innovative?
S H-D: For many years, a lot of R & D work has gone into the development of technologies to produce cold from heat, using little or no electricity. Among the developing technologies are systems using ejectors.
Ejectors operate in a refrigeration cycle as thermo compressors; the technology is simple (no moving parts), but are complex to design to obtain the anticipated performance within the operational conditions given. Currently, solar cooling systems with ejectors have not been commercialized, but it is clear that with the extent of R & D work in this field at the international level, they are likely to become a viable solution, especially in hot countries where electricity is inaccessible or very costly. The main challenges are the performance and the cost of facilities.
Rackam: What is the role of CanmetENERGY in the development of this technology and why did you choose to support Rackam?
S HD: For over 10 years, CanmetENERGY in Varennes has been conducting research on applications of ejectors that use refrigerants to reduce the energy intensity of refrigeration processes for commercial and institutional buildings, as for the industrial sector. Through this work, CanmetENERGY is currently positioned among the national and international leaders in the design and operation fields of the ejectors as integrated components of a refrigeration / heat pump system. Collaboration with Rackam to develop solar cooling systems with ejectors proved to be quite natural. In addition, this collaboration is consistent with the Government of Canada's mission to support Canadian industry and to develop efficient energy technologies which use renewable energies.