Solar collectors convert sunlight to heat. They typically include a metal absorber with a coating designed to absorb maximum light energy which is converted to heat. The absorber will include tubes to carry fluid to transfer heat to where it is needed. Collectors can be of flat plate or evacuated tube form. Flat plate collectors can be glazed or unglazed with the selection usually being dependent on the temperatures required, the local climate and budget among other factors.
Solar thermal systems use solar collectors to capture solar energy and convert it to heat which is delivered in a useful form. Fluid is circulated to transfer the heat from the solar collectors to a form of heat storage, traditionally a hot water tank but increasingly innovative methods of heat storage are being utilised. A controller monitors the temperature difference between the collectors and the store and activates a pump to transfer heat whenever energy is available.
Solar heat is commonly used for domestic hot water, space heating, space cooling via absorption or adsorption heat pumps and for process applications. At very high temperatures it can also be used to generate power via turbines. It can potentially be applicable in any situation where heat energy is useful.
In HEAT4COOL solar thermal will be integrated with adsorption heat pump systems to provide cost effective and environmentally friendly heating and cooling. Several layouts and configurations will be investigated using modelling techniques to determine the best set-up for optimum performance for heating, cooling and DHW supply for buildings and districts. The interface between solar thermal and adsorption heat pump will be developed to allow the systems to be specified independently and to be ‘plug & play’.
These developments will mean specifiers and users can choose different solar thermal systems to suit the needs of the particular – maximising flexibility of the overall system and simplifying install.