The Design and Performance of a Novel Low Cost All Polymer Flat Plate Solar Collector
Whittington, C; Anderson, T
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One of the major barriers to the uptake of solar water heating is the initial cost of these systems. The use of polymers as an alternative to the commonly used metal and glass structure could lead to significant reductions in the cost of solar water heating systems. Therefore, this study explores the design and development of a new low cost polymer solar collector. It shows that in addition to polymer material costs being less expensive than traditional materials, a reduction in the cost of manufacture and assembly may be achievable by using fewer parts. In this respect, the design uses significantly fewer components than a traditional collector, and is simple to assemble and disassemble. This means the parts are easily separated and therefore available for re-use once the collector’s life is over, this ‘cradle to cradle’ approach to the design of solar water heaters has not previously been previously discussed in the literature. Furthermore, it shows that by rethinking the traditional fin-tube design used in metallic collectors, with a view to maximising the wetted area, the issue of the low thermal conductivity of polymers can be effectively eliminated. Finally, experimental testing of the polymer collector demonstrates that their efficiency is not significantly different from a traditional flat plate solar collector and so do present a feasible alternative to the current technology.