Solar walls, strategic installation equals free energy
TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. — Tobyhanna will soon reap the benefit of free energy after the strategic installation of solar walls on seven buildings across the installation.
The technology — two-stage transpired solar walls — uses ventilation fans to draw air through micro perforations in “solar cladding” into an air cavity. The air is then trapped behind a polycarbonate panel and heated a second time as it is drawn through another panel and is directed into the building. Ceiling mounted high-volume, low-speed fans then de-stratify the building air to ensure uniform heat distribution.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Project Engineer and Contracting Officer’s Representative Dean Gillett described the process in simple terms.
“Basically how it works is dark, perforated metal panels called ‘solar cladding’ are mounted to the building’s south-facing exterior walls to create an air cavity. The cladding is heated by solar radiation from the sun and ventilation fans create a negative pressure in the air cavity, drawing the solar-heated air through the exterior panel perforations,” he said. “It’s heating generated at the sole expense of running a fan.”
James Harbert, Resident Engineer and Administrative Contracting Officer for the USACE, Philadelphia District, said the project will provide significant savings for the depot.
“The use of these transpired solar collection panels will decrease heating costs, provide higher air quality, and de-stratify air temperatures in high-ceiling warehouses and mission areas,” he said.
Support structures for the panels are being installed on buildings 7 and 8, and are scheduled for installation on buildings 3, 4, 5, 6 and 55. Environmental personnel conducted a renewable energy and energy conservation study in fiscal 2009 with support from the USACE to determine whether the solar wall project would be feasible and cost effective for the depot. Technical evaluations and on-site monitoring were carried out to pinpoint the best locations for each wall. Then the project was submitted to the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) for consideration to receive funding through the Energy Conservation Investment Program (ECIP).