An innovative new solar collector has been co-developed by French companies MIS (Méditerranée Industries Solaires,), and Saint-Gobain Vetrotex using reinforced thermoplastics.
Using sheets of Twintex reinforcement material, research teams came up with the idea of thermoforming solar collectors. The sheets are moulded to form the collector and internal grooves are included to accommodate the heated fluid.
The MIS collector is coloured black for improved heat absorption, framed beneath a sheet of glass or polycarbonate and installed in a location with good exposure to the sun. The collector absorbs the heat of the sun’s rays, and transmits it to a hot fluid, which then flows to a water heater tank. The heated water is then fed from the tank to apartments or public facilities (hospitals, gymnasiums, etc.) without the need for electricity to heat the water. It can also be used to heat swimming pools or for solar-heated flooring.
Saint-Gobain suggest that the MIS solar collector has many advantages over traditional metal:
It is smaller, more compact and lighter than a traditional collector, and so is easier to handle and install, while being more efficient as the fluid content is almost 10 times greater than in a traditional collector. The fluid circulates more slowly and longer, ensuring that the system is less sensitive to passing cloud cover.
With few components, the MIS collector is a simple manufacturing process, providing a better quality end product, and an excellent price-to-quality ratio, as it is 15 percent cheaper than the existing technology.
The reinforcement material makes this collector extremely strong, highly resistant to impact, and suitable for use with high temperatures. It is corrosion-proof, and water resistant. The collector’s lifespan is well above that of conventional systems.
As the part s made from Twintex, a fully recyclable material, the collector is 100 percent environmentally friendly.
Twintex is a reinforcement fibre developed by Saint-Gobain Vetrotex, with a fine blend of two types of fibres at the level of the reinforcement filament itself: glass fibres and plastic fibres (microscopic image available upon request). The materials can be heated to form sheets with varying levels of stiffness and thickness.
The MIS solar collector has been patented, and was awarded a French Ministry of Research Award in 2002. The device has also entered the competition (environment category) for the next AVK-TV Composite innovation prizes being held in September 2005.
Twintex is a registered trademark.
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