Ready-made snap-together solar panels that turn waste heat into hot water are being developed at Brunel University London in a £10 million sustainable energy scheme starting next month.
With energy use in buildings predicted to double or even triple by 2050, and most home energy used to heat water, project PVadapt promises to crack several sustainable energy problems at once.
Funded by Horizon 2020, the three and a half-year multi-disciplinary project aims to perfect a flexible solar powered renewable energy system that generates both heat from hot water and electricity.
The hybrid solar panels combine photovoltaic (PV) cells with flat heat pipes. Heat pipes transfer unwanted heat away from surfaces. They’re widely used in industry to recycle waste heat and to cool electronic devices from PCs to the International Space Station, which they stop the sun from melting. PVadapt will use heat pipes to cool the PV cells themselves to make them more efficient and longer-lasting. And the heat removed from the cooling is reused.
“With our system, there is no waste heat,” said technical co-ordinator, Professor Hussam Jouhara, who invented the multifunctional Flat Heat Pipe and whose leading role will bring Brunel £816,000.
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