CFD Modeling of the Microclimate in a Greenhouse Using a Rock Bed Thermal Storage Heating System
The rock bed heating system is a more cost-effective concept for storing thermal energy use in greenhouses at night during the cold winter season. This system is considered an environmentally friendly solution compared to conventional heating systems that rely on fossil fuels. Despite the abundance of research on thermal energy-based heating systems, only limited work on climate modeling in greenhouses using rock bed heat storage systems has been reported. To fill this research gap, this study aims to simulate the microclimate in a greenhouse equipped with a rock bed heating system using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) models. User-defined functions have been implemented to account for the interactions between the plants and the air within the greenhouse.
Crop rows and rock bed blocks have been considered as porous media with their dynamic and thermal proprieties. The model’s accuracy was approved by comparing simulated and experimental climate parameter data from the greenhouse. The model’s ability to predict temperature, humidity, and air velocity fields in the greenhouse as well as in the rock bed system during both phases of energy storage and restitution was demonstrated. The thermal, dynamic, and hygric fields were accurately replicated with this numerical model. The growing zone had a vertical temperature gradient between the ground and the greenhouse roof, as well as high humidity. The distribution of temperature fields along the rock bed blocks showed a significant temperature gradient between the air inlet and outlet in the blocks during the two phases of heat storage and restitution. As a result, the model could be useful for sensitivity studies to improve the performance of this thermal storage heating system.