Researchers in the United States have developed a practical solar heater for poultry houses that is far less expensive than using a metal-based system.
The research looked at developing and testing a low-cost solar heater using a solar collector made from perforated black plastic sheets and heated by the sun. In addition, the analysis wanted to look at how plastic provides radiant cooling at night and could contribute to nighttime cooling of a poultry house.
The plastic transpired solar collector (pTSC) was able to efficiently harness solar energy to heat air coming into the turkey house.
Indoor air, as measured by carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide levels, was improved by use of the pTSC, which also provided slightly improved bird performance. This is likely because of increased ventilation rats compared to a house heated with propane only.
The pTSC was not effective in providing nighttime cooling because of cloud cover and high relative humidity. A desiccant (coconut coir) was incorporated into the pTSC system to reduce humidity but only obtained modest results.
Two forms of black plastic sheeting were utilised for construction of the pTSC – plastic pond liner and landscape fabric and compared to a metal based system (mTSC). The landscape fabric outperformed the other two TSC materials in both temperature rise and efficiency, according to the North Carolina State University study, which was funded by the US Poultry and Egg Association.
Landscape fabric appears to be a cost-effective material for construction of a pTSC and is very efficient for harnessing solar energy. Since a pTSC only provides heat when irradiated by the sun, other heating sources must be used in a poultry house when the pTSC is not operating.
The costs of construction of the pTSC is approximately one third of the cost of construction of the mTSC, making its potential use in the commercial poultry industry much more practical.