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InternationalJournalofEnergyScience(IJES)Volume3Issue4,August2013

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InvestigationofEffectofStratificationonthe
ThermalPerformanceofPackedBedSolar
AirHeater
RajeshMaithani1,A.K.Patil2,J.S.Saini3
AssistantProfessor,DepartmentofMechanicalEngineering,DITDehradun(U.A.),India

1,2

AssistantProfessor,DepartmentofMechanicalEngineering,DITDehradun(U.A.),India

Professor,DepartmentofMechanicalEngineering,DITDehradun(U.A.),India

Abstract
Use of rockbeds with bed elements having geometrical
shapesandsizestoresultintemperaturestratificationforthe
improvement of performance of solar air heater has been
proposed by several investigators. However, this enhanced
efficiencyisaccompaniedbysubstantialincreaseinpressure
loss,sothesolarenergystoragesystemshouldbeoptimized
in such a way that there is maximum thermal gain
accompanied by minimum possible pressure losses. A
computational analysis of temperature distribution of the
bedelementsofthestoragesystemasafunctionoftimeand
locationhasbeendetermined.Theresultingstratificationasa
function of sphericity (), void fraction () and equivalent
diameter(De)ofthebedelementsandoperatingparameters
namely temperature rise parameter (T/I) and insolation (I)
has been determined. Optimum values of bed parameters
namely sphericity (), void fraction () and equivalent
diameter (De) as a function of temperature rise parameter
andinsolationhavebeenestimatedonthebasisofMaximum
effective efficiency (e) of the solar air heater. These values
can be used by a designer to select the optimum values of
bedparameters.
Keywords
Equivalent Diameter; Sphericity; Stratification; Temperature Rise
Parameter;VoidFraction

Introduction
Solar air heating systems which utilize rockbeds for
energy storage, are quite common. Harmeet Singh
(2010) reviewed the packed bed solar energy storage
systems. The overall performance of such systems is
influenced significantly by the temperature
distributionintherockbedenergystorageunitwhich
is strongly affected by the system parameters i.e.
sphericity,voidfractionandequivalentdiameterofthe
bed.DuffieandBeckman(1991)describedthatthewell
designed packed bed having several characteristics
which are desirable for solar energy application such

as high heat transfer between the air and solid


promotesthermalstratification.Heattransferbehavior
ofthepackedbedwasstudiedbySchumann(1929)in
the form of mathematical model. A. Mawire and Mc
Pherson (2009) simulated the performance of storage
materialsforpebblebedthermalenergystorage(TES)
systems. Common beds employed for energy storage
havebeenfoundtohavehighpressuredropinthebed,
resultinginsubstantiallylargeenergyconsumptionto
propel air through the bed. This reduces the overall
benefitofthesolarenergyutilizationsystem.Pressure
dropinthebedcouldbereducedwiththeuseoflarge
sized bed element. Reduction in the heat transfer rate
to large size material element due to smaller surface
area per unit volume of storage is compensated by
substantial reduction in the amount of energy
consumption by fan due to low pressure drop in the
bed. It can therefore be beneficial to use large size
materials as the storage element. Nusselt number and
frictionfactorcorrelationsforpackedbedsolarenergy
storagesystemhavinglargesizedelementsofdifferent
shapeshavebeendevelopedbySingh(2005).
Asimplefluidandheatflowanalysisforapackedbed
hasbeenpresentedbyHowellet.al.(1982).Therateof
heattransfertoandfromthesolidinthepackedbedis
astrongfunctionofphysicalpropertiesofthefluidand
solid. The local temperature of the fluid and the
surface of the solid, flow rate of the fluid and the
physicalcharacteristicsofthebedhavebeenstatedby
DemirelandKaharaman(2000).LoffandHawley(1948)
have given simple correlation for volumetric heat
transfer coefficient between air and bed element.
Mumma and Marvin (1976) proposed a straight
forward simulation method for the prediction of
behavior of the packed bed element. A theoretical
modelbyW.F.Phillips(1981)canpredicttheeffectof
stratification in the rock bed storage unit of a solar
heatingsystem.

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The benefit of additional thermal energy gain as well


as the additional energy input to overcome pressure
loss has been simultaneously considered. Cortes and
Piacentini(1990)haveproposedaparameter,knownas
effectiveefficiencydefinedbelow:
e

IA

100

(1)

where,Quisusefulenergygaininthecollector(W),P
ispressuredropacrossthebed, aismassflowrate,I
is the insolation (W/m2), Ac is the collector area (m2)
andCistheconversionfactorthatrepresentstheratio
of mechanical energy required for pump work to the
amount of thermal energy that will be required to
produce that work (C=0.2), such that the quantity P
ma/C is the equivalent thermal energy to produce the
requiredpumpingenergy.
In this work, the performance of a solar collector
sensible heat storage system composed of large sized
element has been predicted. Thermal and effective
efficiency has been determined as function of system
andoperatingparameters.Theeffectofparameterson
thestratificationandthethermalperformanceofsolar
collectorhavebeendiscussed.Theoptimumvaluesof
systemparametershavebeencalculatedthatyieldthe
maximumeffective efficiency forgiven set of valueof
operatingparameters.

represents the type of applications; and each


application requires specific outlet temperature from
the collector i.e a temperature rise brought about by
the collector if the inlet temperature was ambient air
temperature.
Average insolation (I) represents the incoming solar
radiation averaged of the period of utilization and is
evaluatedfortheplacewherethesystemislocated.
Typically, the ratio T/I, known as temperature rise
parameter and insolation(I) are given the name of
operating or design parameter of the solar energy
utilizationsystem.

FIG.1SCHEMATICOFTHESTORAGESYSTEMUNDERCONSIDERATION

Solar Energy Collector-Storage System


Fig. 1 shows the schematic of the solar energy cum
storage system that has been analyses. The solar
collector is the typical flat plate solar air heater with
single transparent cover and a nonselective coating
suitable for low temperature air heating whereas the
storage consists of large size packing elements
typically analysed by Singh Ranjit et. al. (2006) for
which correlation for heat transfer coefficient and
friction factor are available. Collector is assumed to
have a control system such that it supplies a constant
temperature outlet temperature for a variable inlet
temperature which is the outlet temperature of the
storage tank, thus resulting in variable air flow rates
throughthecollectoraswellasthestoragesystem.
Fig. 2 shows the geometrical characteristics of the
storage elements. Further, the solar energy utilization
system design is based on the following important
operatingofdesignparameters.
Temperature rise (T) represents the temperature
difference between outlet temperature of the collector
and the ambient temperature. This rise typically

268

FIG.2DIMENSIONS,EQUIVALENTDIAMETER(DE)ANDSPHERICITY()OF
DIFFERENTMATERIALS

Fixed and Variable Parameters


Configurationally, parameters of the solar collector,
storage element parameters and operating parameters
can be divided into fixed and variable parameters of
thesystemthathasbeenconsideredforanalysis.These
arelistedinTables1,2and3.

InternationalJournalofEnergyScience(IJES)Volume3Issue4,August2013

TABLE1FIXEDPARAMETERSOFBED
Description

Parameter

Volumeofpackedbed,m3
Lengthofpackedbed,m
Numberofbedelement
Initialbedtemperature,C
Dynamicviscosityofair,kg/sm
Densityofair,kg/m3
Inletairtemperaturetobed,C
Ambienttemperature,C
Densityofstoragematerial,kg/m3

(Vb)
(L)
(N)
(Tbi)
(a)
(a)
TaiorTbi
T
s

Value
15
6
60
25
1.865x105
1.1
40
25
1920

Specificheatofair,(J/kgC)

Cpa

1008

Specificheatofstoragematerial,
J/kgC
Collectorarea,m2
(forcollector)
(forcollector)

Cps

835

Ac
FR()e
FRUl

20
0.62
3.38

Timeinterval,min.

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Useful thermal energy gain, Qu, by using Hottle and


Willier(1958)equation.
Q

FR

FR U T

(2)

whereFRistheheatremovalfactordefinedasratioof
actual useful energy gain to the maximum possible
energy gain, ()e represents effective transmittance
absorptance product, Ul is overall heat loss coefficient
(W/m2 0C) and Tic is the outlet temperature of the air
fromthepackedbed.
Temperature distribution of bed and air, by means of
MummaandMarvin(1976)forthestoragebedshown
inFig.3.

TABLE2VARIABLEPARAMETERSOFBED
Equivalentdiameter
ofpacking
material,(m)
Sphericityof
materialelement

De(m)

Voidfraction

Ti(C)

Correspondingtothe
materialelementunder
consideration.0.050.2
Correspondingtothe
materialelementunder
consideration.0.51
Correspondingtothe
materialelementunder
consideration.0.300.50
35Cto75C

I(W/m )
T

500,750,1000
10Cto55C

Inlettobed
temperature
Insolation
Temperature
difference
Temperaturerise
parameter

T/I
(Cm2
/W)

FIG.3(a)PACKEDBED

0.05to0.1

TABLE3RANGEOFSYSTEMPARAMETERS
Parameter
Sphericity,
Voidfraction,
Equivalentdiameter,De(cm)

Range
0.5to1
0.3to0.5
5to20

Prediction of Performance
Theperformanceofthesystemwithrespecttothermal
and effective efficiency of the collector has been
predictedonthebasisofdetailedconsiderationofheat
andfluidflowprocessesinthestoragecollectorsystem
shown in Fig. 1. The calculation starts with a set of
values of operating parameters (T/I, and I) and
proceeds with the determination of efficiencies for all
possible sets of geometrical parameters of the storage
bedelement(,andDe).Inthisprocess,thefollowing
setsofwellknownrelationshipareutilized:

FIG.3(b)ELEMENTMOFBED

The final temperature of the air Ta,m+1 at the exit of


eachelementis:
T,

where
unit)

A L
C

T,

NTU
N

ex p

(3)

and NTU (number of transfer

whereAbiscrosssectionalareaofpacked

bed, L is length of packed bed, N is number of bed


elements.
Volumetric heat transfer coefficient, hv is calculated
byusingtheexpressiongivenbyChandraandWillits
(1981)forNusseltnumberinthemodifiedformas:

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wherekaisthermalconductivityofair.Thecorrelation
forNusseltnumberisgivenbySingh,Ranjit(2006)

where P is pressure drop across the bed, a is mass


flowrateandCistheconversionfactortoaccountfor
conversionofhighgrademechanicalenergytothermal
energy(C=0.2).

Nu=0.437Re0.753.351.62
exp(29.03log10()2))/De2](5)

Phillips W. F (1981) gave following expression for


Stratificationcoefficient, K :

Thus the expression for volumetric heat transfer


coefficientis:

Nu

(4)

hv=ka 0.437 Re0.75 3.35 .62


[exp(29.03(log 2))]/De2

(6)

The temperature of the bed element Tb,m(t+t) is given


by:
T
T

T,
T,
T,
T,

(7)

where

N
AL

and

UA
C

andt

(15)

ThusitisseenthatKsdependsonthreedimensionless
numbers,E,MandNTU.
here,Heatexchangereffectiveness(forcollector),

FR A U
C

Mixingnumber.,

Massflowrateofairfrom:

Conductivitynumber,M
No.oftransferunit,

istimeincrement.

(16)

NTU

M
A
C

NTU

(17)
(18)

V
C

(19)

Result and Discussion:

ma=Qu/Cpa(TibTic)

(8)

The results of mathematical simulation of the system


havebeendiscussedinthesystem.Theeffectofsystem
parameters (Sphericity , void fraction and
equivalent diameter De) on the performance
Pressure drop in the bed (P) has been calculated by
parameters,
namely thermal and effective efficiency
usingthefollowingfrictionfactorcorrelationgivenby
has
been
investigated.
In view of the fact that the
Singh,Ranjit.(2006)
temperature distribution in the bed is the most
.
f 4.466 R
(9)
.
.
exp 11.85 log
importantaspect,itisbeneficialtodiscusstheeffectof
thusP=LG24.466Re,0.20.696.945
system and operating variable on temperature
exp(11.85(log102))/(aDe)(10)
distribution.
whereTibisinlettobedtemperatureandTicistheinlet
tocollectortemperature.

Thermal efficiency of collector is determined as the


ratioofusefulenergygaintotheincidentsolarenergy.
Q

(11)

IA

whereQuisusefulheatgainbycollector.Theaverage
thermal efficiency of the collector is calculated using
thefollowingrelation:

100(12)

IA

Wherenisacounterdefiningnumberofobservations
duringthecompletechargingtime.
Theeffectiveefficiency, iscalculatedasfollows;

100

(13)

Theexpressionfortheaverageeffectiveefficiencyisas
follows:
Q

e,avg=

270

IA

100

(14)

Temperature Distribution and Thermal


Performance of Collector
Mathematical simulation has been used to yield the
averagetemperatureofeachelementofstoragesystem
considered,duringchargingatagiveninstantoftime.
Fig. 4 shows the effect of void fraction () on the
temperature distribution. It can be observed that the
stratificationreduceswiththeincreaseofvoidfraction.
The temperature of bottom most bed element being
higher leads to higher outlet air temperature. The
mean bed temperature was observed to increase with
an increasing void fraction. These variations are
reflectedintheoutlettemperatureofairwhichisinlet
temperature of solar collector as can be seen in Fig. 5
wherethecollectorinlettemperaturehasbeenplotted
as a function of charging time for different values of
void fraction. The effect of these temperature
variationsonthecollectorefficiencycanbeseeninFig.
6wherethermalefficiencyofcollectorhasbeenplotted

InternationalJournalofEnergyScience(IJES)Volume3Issue4,August2013

as a function of void fraction for different values of


charging time. It is seen that the lowest void fraction
results in the highest value of average thermal
efficiency.

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62

Thermalefficiencyofcollector,th (%)

60

39

37

58

Temperature(C)

35

=0.3
=0.35
=0.4
=0.45

56

33

=0.5
Tbi=25C, Tib=40C,Tamb=25C
I=500W/m2
=0.76,De=0.125m

31
=0.3

54

=0.35

29

=0.4

Chargingtime,tch (hour)

=0.45
=0.5

27

FIG.6VARIATIONOFTHERMALEFFICIENCYOFCOLLECTORWITH
CHARGINGOFBEDATDIFFERENTVOIDFRACTION

Tbi=25C, Tib=40C,Tamb
=25C
I=500W/m2,=0.76, D
e=0.125m

25
0

10

20

30

Bedelement(N)

40

50

60

FIG.4EFFECTOFCHARGINGOFTHEBEDONINLETAIRTEMPERATURETO
THECOLLECTORATDIFFERENTVOIDFRACTIONOFTHEBED

Collectorinlettemperature,Tic (C)

37

=0.3

35

=0.35
=0.4
=0.45

33

=0.5

31

29

27

25
0

Similarly, calculations for the effect of sphericity and


equivalent diameter of the bed element were carried
outanditwasfoundthatingeneral,asphericityof1.0
andthelowestvalueofequivalentdiameterresultedin
thebestthermalperformanceofthecollector.
Thermohydraulic Performance

Tbi=25C, Tib=40C,Tamb=25C
I=500W/m2,=0.76,De=0.125m

39

Chargingtime,tch (hour)

FIG.5EFFECTOFCHARGINGOFTHEBEDONINLETAIRTEMPERATURETO
THECOLLECTORATDIFFERENTVOIDFRACTIONOFTHEBED

Aspointedoutearlier,anyeffortatimprovingtheheat
transfer performance of the system is usually
accompanied by additional frictional losses; which
becomesessentialtoselectthesystemparameterssuch
thatthesystemyieldsmaximumpossibleenhancement
in thermal performance with minimum possible
enhancement in friction losses. This can be done by
considering these two effects simultaneously through
thermohydraulic performance i.e. the effective
efficiency.
Fig.7showstheplotofaverageeffectiveefficiencyasa
function of void fraction and temperature rise
parameter. An optimum value of void fraction is one
that results in maximum values of effective efficiency
forafixedvalueoftemperatureriseparameters(T/I,
and I). as it can be seen that for a low value of
temperature rise parameter, the lower value of void
fraction results in maximum value of effective
efficiency whereas the higher value of void fraction
yieldsmaximumvalueofefficiencyathighervalueof
temperatureriseparameter.Ithasalsobeenfoundthat

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the optimum values of void fraction are also function


of insolation (I). Similar procedure was employed to
evaluatetheoptimumvaluessphericityandequivalent
diameters as a function of temperature rise parameter
andinsolation.

coefficient as the temperature gradient is


high( temperature at top of pebble bed is high and
temperatureatbottomlayerislow)thusenhancingthe
collectorefficiency.
1.12

62.5

1.11

Average
StratificationCoefficient,Ks

Averageeffectiveefficiency,e

62

61.5

61

60.5

=0.3

1.1

1.09

1.08

=0.35
=0.4

60

=0.45

1.07

=0.5

Tbi=25C, Tib=40C,Tamb=25C
I=500W/m2,De=0.125 m, =0.76

Tbi=25C,Tamb=25C
I=500W/m2,=0.76,De=0.125m

59.5

1.06
0.3

59
0.02

2
Temperaturerise
parameter
(T/I),(Cm
0.04
0.06
0.08 /W)

0.35

0.4

0.45

0.5

VoidFraction,

0.1

FIG.7EFFECTOFTEMPERATURERISEPARAMETERONAVERAGE
EFFECTIVEEFFICIENCYFORDIFFERENTVALUESOFVOIDFRACTION

FIG.8VARIATIONOFAVERAGESTRATIFICATIONCOEFFICIENTWITHVOID
FRACTION
63

Stratification Coefficient

272

61

CollectorEfficiency,th(%)

It is well known that the performance of a collector


system receiving air coming out from the bed is
considerablyinfluencedbythestratificationofthebed.
As the charging time increases, the stratification
coefficient decreases as the temperature of the bed
increases. Stratification coefficient is high at the
beginning of charging due to higher temperature
gradient,butwiththepassingoftime,thebottomlayer
ofthepebblebedgetsheatedup,leadingtodecreasein
the temperature gradient and then lowering
stratification coefficient. The variation of average
stratificationcoefficientwithvoidfractionisshownin
Fig.8.Theincreaseinvoidfractionvaluedecreasesthe
stratificationcoefficient.Thebedatvoidfractionof0.3
hasthemaximumstratification.Atvoidfractionof0.50,
the bed is least stratified. This is due to the fact that
with increase of void fraction the heat transfer
coefficientbetweentheairandsoliddecreasesandvice
versa.Fig.9showsthevariationofcollectorefficiency
withstratificationcoefficient,andtheefficiencyofsolar
collector is high for higher value of stratification

Tbi=25C, Tib=40C,Tamb=25C
I=500W/m2,=0.45,=0.76, De=0.12
5m

62

60

59

58

57

56

55

54
1.005

1.01

1.015

1.02

1.025

1.03

1.035

1.04

1.045

1.05

Stratificationcoefficient,Ks
FIG.9VARIATIONOFCOLLECTOREFFICIENCYWITHSTRATIFICATION
COEFFICIENT

InternationalJournalofEnergyScience(IJES)Volume3Issue4,August2013

Optimum Values of System Parameters

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compared. From this comparison, the set that yielded


maximum effective efficiency value for given set of
designconditionwasdetermined.Tables4,5and6list
the optimum sets; the corresponding system
parameters (sphericity, void fraction and equivalent
diameter) for different values of temperature rise
parameters (from 0.01 to 0.1) and insolation (I = 500
W/m2to1000W/m2).Theseoptimumvalueshavealso
beenrepresentedinFigs.10,11and12.

In order to determine the set of values of sphericity,


void fraction and equivalent diameter out of all
investigatedsets(i.e.fordifferentvaluesofsphericity,
void fraction and equivalent diameter) that yield
maximumvalueofeffectiveefficiencyofcollectorfora
given set of design conditions (i.e. temperature rise
parameter, T/I and insolation, I), the effective
efficiencies of corresponding individual sets were

TABLE4VALUESOFOPTIMALSYSTEMPARAMETERSFORI=500W/m2
T/I
(Temperaturerise
parameter)

Optimum
Sphericity
()

Optimum
Voidfraction
()

OptimumEquivalentdiameter
(De),m

0.01

0.35

0.05

0.02

0.35

0.05

0.03
0.04
0.05
0.06
0.07
0.08
0.09
0.1

1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1

0.35
0.4
0.4
0.4
0.45
0.45
0.45
0.45

0.05
0.05
0.05
0.05
0.05
0.05
0.05
0.05

TABLE5VALUESOFOPTIMALSYSTEMPARAMETERSFORI=750W/m2

T/I
(Temperatureriseparameter)

OptimumSphericity
()

OptimumVoidfraction
()

OptimumEquivalentdiameter
(De),m

0.0133
0.02
0.0265
0.0333
0.04
0.0466
0.0533
0.06
0.066
0.0733

1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1

0.35
0.35
0.4
0.4
0.4
0.4
0.45
0.45
0.45
0.5

0.05
0.05
0.05
0.05
0.05
0.05
0.05
0.05
0.05
0.05

TABLE6VALUESOFOPTIMALSYSTEMPARAMETERSFORI=1000W/m2

T/I
(Temperatureriseparameter)

OptimumSphericity
()

OptimumVoid
fraction()

OptimumEquivalent
diameter(De),m

0.015
0.02
0.025
0.03

1
1
1
1
1

0.4
0.4
0.4
0.45
0.45

0.05
0.05
0.05
0.05
0.05

1
1
1
1
1

0.45
0.45
0.5
0.5
0.5

0.05
0.05
0.05
0.05
0.05

0.035
0.04
0.045
0.05
0.055
0.06

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0.2

1.25

Tbi=25C, Tamb=25C

I=500W/m2

0.15

Equivalentdiameter,De(m)

Sphericity,

0.75

I=750W/m2
I=1000W/m2

0.1

0.05
0.5

I=500W/m2

I=750W/m2

0.25

I=1000W/m2

0
0.2

0.4

0.6

0.8

1.2

Temperatureriseparameter,T/I,(Cm2/W)

FIG.10OPTIMUMVALUESOFSPHERICITYFORDIFFERENTVALUESOF
INSOLATION
0.55

VoidFraction,

0.6

0.8

1.2

The designer can select the optimum values of


sphericity, equivalent diameter and void fraction as a
set for the packed bed solar energy storage system
fromtheplotsshowninFigs.10,11and12respectively
as a function of temperature rise parameter T/I and
insolationI.Forinstance,foralocationwithanaverage
insolation of 500 W/m2 (say) and for an application
requiring a temperature rise of 15C (say) above
ambient;thedesignparameterscanbeestimatedas:
T/I=15/500=0.03Cm2/W,I=500,W/m2

0.5

Usingtablesorfigs,asmentionedabove,theoptimum
bed parameters are determined as: Sphericity: 1, Void
fraction:0.35,Equivalentdiameter:0.05.

0.45

Conclusion
A solar energy storagecumcollection system using
large size bed element has been analyzed and it has
been found that the effective efficiency is a strong
function of geometrical parameters of the storage bed
and optimum set of these parameters is a function of
operating conditions. The optimum sets have been
determined for different values of design condition,
whichcanbeusedbythedesignertoobtainminimum
possiblefrictionlossesinthestoragesystem.

0.4

I=500W/m2

0.35

I=750W/m2
I=1000W/m2
Tbi=25C, Tamb=25C

0.3
0.01

0.03

0.05

0.07

0.09

REFERENCES

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FIG.11OPTIMUMVALUESOFVOIDFRACTIONFORDIFFERENTVALUESOF
INSOLATION

274

0.4

FIG.12OPTIMUMVALUESOFEQUIVALENTDIAMETERFORDIFFERENT
VALUESOFINSOLATION

Tbi=25C, Tamb=25C

0.2

Temperatureriseparameter,T/I,(Cm2/W)

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InternationalJournalofEnergyScience(IJES)Volume3Issue4,August2013

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Rajesh Maithani He received Masters
degree with specialization in Thermal
Engineering at Dehradun Institute of
Technology, Dehradun affiliated to
Uttarpradesh
Technical
University,
Lucknow (U.P.) India. Working as
Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical
EngineeringatDehradunInstituteofTechnology,Dehradun
(U.A.)India.Hisresearchinterestisintheareasofrenewable
energytechnologyandInternalCombustionEngines.

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