Solar heat exchangers: when technology is sustainable

Solar Energy is widely used in many industries, not enough if we listen to environmentalists’ opinions but increasing if we consider the new industries that are taking the path of sustainable energy sources and energy saving. Undoubtedly, the perspective of an unlimited resource that is also cheap once the initial investment has been made, incentives the adoption of such technologies.

One of these applications, that of solar heat exchangers, has recently expanded in several Italian industries like the chemical and house building ones. Heat exchangers are used in the handling of substances and in the creation of heat and air conditioning installations in houses and cars. An everyday example of such application is the heating system of cars, which has a heat exchanger as its fundamental component.

Such solar exchangers, specially designed to transfer heat from a liquid to another, are also used for separating elements with different physical properties. They are part of the radiation heat exchanger group, i.e. the equipment that radiates the heat onto the substance. Other types of heat exchangers include direct contact heat exchangers in which there is no physical obstacle between the elements being treated, phase change heat exchangers and plate heat exchangers which are composed of multiple large separated plates with flow passages to transfer the energy.

The use of solar heat exchangers can also be transferred to the private housing industry. Certain types of heat exchangers are used for the implementation if environmentally sustainable heat systems while others are extensively used for heating up pool water.

Several projects in developing countries make use of this technology to transfer the heat collected by the solar panels to the water heating system of the house.

A certain type of tube heat exchangers use two parallel copper tubes, one going from the solar panel to the deposit and downwards to its end in order to exit from the bottom surface and right up to the heat collector. A second copper tube, belonging to the house’s water system, enters the machine from the bottom section and goes out at the top with hot water. The tubes, located parallel to each other, use the copper surface to transfer the heat.

There are also several cooling systems that use high temperature solar panels for the air conditioning installation of houses, that can be easily integrated with the traditional system in order to guarantee the functioning even if solar radiation is not enough.

Solar thermal equipment is therefore a reality that has advantages not only on the energetic and productive side but it also makes sense economically in the long run, especially if one considers the benefits of the industries that will adopt this technologies as a whole. Housing construction firms will surely register an increase of demand for these heating and air conditioning systems based on solar energy during the next few years, a trend that should be stimulated for everyone’s good.

Written by Alba L with support from scambiatori alfa laval. Visit scambiatori di calore a piastre or separatori centrifughi for further details.

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