The main goal of the project is to develop a new family of low cost polyolefin based components (sheets, pipes and fittings) to be used in the manufacture of flat-plate solar thermal collectors. These components are expected to be a viable alternative to current collector’s metallic components. However, due the current limitations of thermoplastics materials (low thermal conductivity and low resistant coatings) two main developments will be claimed in this project: • Polyolefin nanocomposites by using different nanoparticles with high thermal conductive properties as additives. • A novel and specific surface treatment based on SAM technology to provide an energy absorber flexible coating (based on metallic oxides, e.g. TiO2 or ZnO) to the different components. These developments will allow novel low cost and low weight components design’s with enhanced thermal conductivity and high solar energy absorption to develop high efficiency thermal collector designs. The use of plastics components instead of metallic ones offers additional advantages: folding and easy assembling structures design, low energy consumption in motorized thermal collectors (follow sun light), corrosion resistance, low friction coefficient (less pump energy consumption), prevent theft or vandalism (due the low cost of components in comparison with copper). The solar thermal collector parts to be substituted by the new thermal conductive materials and flexible absorber coatings will be the extruded pipes and injected fittings of the collector heat absorption circuit and extruded sheets which will be used as absorber plate. In this context, the polymeric materials appear as a real alternative to develop new low cost procedures in which a wide variety of component’s designs could be obtained to optimize the thermal energy obtained per thermal collector surface. Due to their properties, plastics permit to produce any type of part with a free design at very competitive cost.
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