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Sustainability Assessment of Alternatives for Heat Generation and Transfer in Saunas

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DOI: 10.4236/jep.2015.612120    3,252 Downloads   3,784 Views   Citations

ABSTRACT

In the search for renewable energy sources, solar energy appears, among others, as a powerful alternative; mainly for those countries located at Earth’s equatorial region. This is the case of a Fresnel device that uses solar radiation to warm-up the air; for instance, within saunas. Authors coined the term sustainable technological innovation to refer to a technological innovation in accordance to the principles of sustainability. The object of this research was comparing the sustainability of a Fresnel Lens Solar Concentration (FLSC) against the sustainability of other twelve alternatives to generate heat. This article assesses the sustainability of fourteen technological options for heat generation and transfer to saunas in the northwest region of Mexico where temperatures often reach above 45 C and where there is a greater potential for exploiting solar energy. Emergy accounting, economic analysis, and global warming potential are the three indicators considered in quantifying sustainability. Results show that infrared ceramic photovoltaic, infrared carbon photovoltaic and infrared metal photovoltaic are the most sustainable systems. The Fresnel device reached the fourth and tenth position, using electricity from photovoltaic and from grid respectively, among all fourteen assessed devices, respectively. Although Fresnel equipment does not release any global warming gases into the atmosphere, or even it demands low amount of non-renewable resources, 1.40 and 4.47 E17 seJF/yr. it requires high economic investment, 20,800 and 79,600 USD/yr, for the implementation and operation phases, which decrease its sustainability performance compared to twelve other evaluated devices.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Cite this paper

Munguia, N. , Velazquez, L. , Perez, R. , Rincón, D. , Marin, M. , Giannetti, B. , Almeida, C. and Agostinho, F. (2015) Sustainability Assessment of Alternatives for Heat Generation and Transfer in Saunas. Journal of Environmental Protection, 6, 1378-1393. doi: 10.4236/jep.2015.612120.

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