Facade of PV-assisted heat pump module for power, heating, cooling and ventilation – pv magazine International

Designed by scientists in Germany, the modular facade must be integrated into the technical equipment of a building. The rooms behind the facade can be supplied with solar energy and at the same time heated, cooled and ventilated.

From magazine pv germany

A research team from the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics IBP and the Fraunhofer Institute for Energy Economics and Energy Systems Technology IEE is developing a renewable energy module facade.

According to the scientists, the module should not only be able to supply a building with solar energy, but also to heat, cool and ventilate its rooms.

The heart of the module is the photovoltaic system, which is associated with a heat pump as a heat and cold generator and a decentralized ventilation device with heat recovery. All the components necessary for the system technology are housed in the facade element, which implies a high degree of supposedly minimally invasive prefabrication.

“We are not renovating the whole building, just the facade,” explained Jan Kaier, project manager and scientist at Fraunhofer IEE. “In the future, the old façade will be replaced by new industrially prefabricated modules with integrated system technology, which makes it multifunctional and adapts it to new energy standards.”

All heating, cooling and ventilation technology for the office space behind will be integrated into the facade. Since the heating and ventilation technology is already integrated, no new pipes need to be laid inside the building. The facade must however have an electrical connection in order to be able to air-condition and ventilate the rooms even in the absence of solar energy production.

The modular facade is mainly intended for office and administrative buildings as well as school buildings which were built using the frame construction method customary in Germany in the 1950s to 1970s. Instead of load-bearing walls, reinforced concrete supports held the floor slabs. According to the Fraunhofer researchers, the old facade elements will be removed during the renovation and the new floor-to-ceiling modules will be suspended in front of the building structure.

A single technical block of the module front is 1.25m wide and 30cm deep and can supply a room of approximately 24m2. The integrated photovoltaic elements generate electricity and power the various components of the system. At the same time, the heat pump acts as a heat and cold generator which is also responsible for the intelligent control of energy flows. It extracts heat from the outside air via a fan coil installed in the air gap behind the modular element and transfers it to the room behind it in the form of heat, via a fan coil. If it is to be used for cooling, the cycle is reversed, drawing heat from the indoor air and returning it to the outdoor air.

An integrated decentralized ventilation technology unit regulates air exchange and heat recovery. Due to the targeted interconnection of the ventilation flaps, only one fan is required, which minimizes energy consumption. A ventilation unit alternates cyclically between supply air and extract air operation. The vacuum insulation elements also provide thermal protection.

The joint research project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economics. The project partners are Implenia Fassadentechnik GmbH, as designer of the modular facade. Lare GmbH Luft- und Kältetechnik develops the heat pump and LTG AG supplies the decentralized ventilation. A demonstrator of the renewable energy module facade is currently being tested on the southern facade of the Test Facility for Energy and Indoor Climate Studies (VERU), including a test room behind it, at Holzkirchen. The first results showed that the interaction works well. Fraunhofer researchers are currently continuing to optimize the individual components. Extensive measurement technology is used in the tests. Among other things, parameters such as air temperature, air humidity and air velocity at different heights, as well as illuminance, are determined, which are relevant as parameters of comfort in the rooms. The electrical consumptions of the individual components of the technical unit of the module facade are recorded, as well as the yields of the photovoltaic element in order to calculate an energy balance.

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Alan A. Seibert