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Solar-thermal Systems based on Polymeric Materials – Part 1 Print

Thermal collector systems are currently produced in rather cost-intensive manufacturing processes utilizing a variety of different, mostly non-plastics materials. Apart from circumventing the anticipated limited availability of certain raw materials in the future (e.g., copper for thermal absorbers), there is also an extraordinary potential for applying novel polymeric materials in collector systems in terms of enhanced functionality and attractive design. Simultaneously, the economical competitiveness may be improved by reduced systems costs, thereby leading to an increased market penetration. To support these arguments, reference is made to the impact of plastics in other application sectors such as the automotive, the electrical and electronics, the buildings and construction, and the packaging industry.

Based on the available scientific and industrial expertise in the field of solar-thermal technologies and polymer technologies in Austria, it is the overall visionary goal of the present research proposal to foster and strengthen the worldwide leading position of the Austrian solar-thermal industry by novel polymer based product developments and innovations. For this purpose these two fields of expertise and competences are combined in this research proposal which consists of two associated projects, one accounting for the fundamental scientific research needs (SolPol-1), the other for the industrial research needs (SolPol-2). Overall, the research proposal aims at a major contribution in broadening renewable energy utilization in general, thereby significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The present project SolPol-1 deals with research problems and topics of rather fundamental nature. In combining the expertise of 5 Scientific Partners, SolPol-1 aims at the establishment of the basic scientific and methodological background for the development of novel polymeric thermal collector systems and at the assessment of the ecological and economical impact for various market penetration scenarios. The associated project SolPol-2, in which 8 Scientific Partners und 10 Company Partners, are involved, focuses on industrial research, ultimately aiming at the development of novel polymeric materials and of all-polymeric model collectors of various designs as well as of other polymeric solar-thermal model components.