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Solar-thermal Systems based on Polymeric Materials – Part 2 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.

While the associated fundamental research project SolPol-1, submitted separately by 5 Scientific Partners, deals with various research problems and topics of rather fundamental nature, the present collaborative project SolPol-2, submitted by a consortium of 8 Scientific Partners und 10 Company Partners, focuses on industrial research aiming at the development of novel polymeric materials and all-polymeric model collectors of various designs as well as of other polymeric solar-thermal model components. As to the evaluation of this project, the fundamental research project SolPol-1 may be considered as independent project, which may be worked on either simultaneously or somewhat prior to SolPol-2. Vice versa, there is no stringent requirement for the industrial research project SolPol-2 to have finished the research work of SolPol-1. Much rather, working on both research projects very much simultaneous is preferred to realize synergetic effects. In fact, some of the work packages in the two different projects have been scheduled in close interrelation to maximize such synergies.