Solar Thermal Collector Tiles

Call Reference: 
LC-SC3-RES-4-2018
Short description of project idea : 
This R&D project will result in an innovative and environmental friendly solar thermal collector. We aim to develop a medium-temperature collector, which uses a suitable medium, e.g. water, as a working fluid. The difference between existing products and our innovation is the design and layout of the thermal collectors. Instead of using traditional plates or Evacuated tube collectors (ETC) are we going to incorporate parabolic-shaped solar energy reflectors into “roof tile” equivalents. These new type solar collector tiles can either be placed on top of existing roof, (independent of type of roofs), or it can replace traditional roof tiles completely. The base of the tiles will be made of a suitable plastic, which is both lightweight and very cost-effective compared to existing systems today. The tiles will be designed with a “clip-on, clip-off” system which will make the mounting easy, as well as replacing or expanding with more single tiles afterwards. The collector tubes will be clicked in place in the center of the tiles so that the thermal energy is focused on the tubes. A huge advantage is the flexible and modular design of the tiles, so that they can be arranged to fit any shapes/areas both horizontally and vertically. The tile “kit” will consist of a smaller number of standardized parts and components, e.g. with a base tile, then end-tiles with different angles (either one tile for 30, 40, 50, 60 degrees, or eventually one adjustable) to fit any roof shape. This lowers the production costs, and therefore also sales prices. The end-tiles will also have integrated function of interconnecting the collector tubes. In addition to the main purposes of more well-known applications such as house heating, water heating etc. we also intend to develop a solution suitable for developing countries, and areas with limited energy supply such as war zones and refugee camps. We will use the same principles and technology, but we will do additional research to lower the cost as much as possible, and develop a heat transport system for the working fluid which is completely self-driven. We want to develop a solution that also can be combined with low energy heating/cooking systems, for which the working fluid will be potable water so that our product preheats the water before it is poured into the cooking pot to reduce the energy consumption from burning coal or wood. We also want to make our product relevant for lager buildings such as hotels and/or industry which has a higher capacity demand and energy consumption. In this case we will use the same technology and methods, but due to the, normally, larger roof areas we have the possibility to scale up our products and increase the active area and possibly increase the efficiency of each tile to increase the capacity.
Energy
Main areas of expertise: 
NODIN-Innovation AS specializes in advanced product development with the use of 3D software and printing, FEM/FEA calculations and analyzing. We have a complete mechanical and electronic prototype workshop with i.e. welding, lathe, milling capabilities and in-house FDM 3D-printers. Our main areas of expertise are concept development, prototyping, testing, QA, project management and business strategy.
Main objectives of the project and how will they be achieved: 
Title: 
Development of a low-cost solar thermal collector system
Description: 
The main objective is to develop a solar thermal collector system which is radically lower cost than any existing commercial products. It is environmentally friendly, based on renewable energy and reduces the dependency of fossil energy/fuel. In addition, the solution will be extremely light-weight, and completely water proof, which makes it suitable to all types of house roof constructions. There is an urgent demand of clean energy worldwide, and our goal is to develop a system that reduces, or under optimal environmental conditions completely removes, the need of traditional housing heating. We believe that the low investment needed (cost of product and installation) combined with a large return of interest will place our product in market leading position. Not only will our product replace existing solutions, such as expensive evacuated tube collector products, but also create a huge new marked for locations/uses where it was never considered to change from other energy sources to solar because of the price and/or complexity of the system available today. Not only will our system be very low-cost, it will also be very easy and quick to install, and even suitable for “DIY” as no special tools or skills are needed for the installation. To achieve this, we need to do thorough research and developing to make a system that comprise of as few models as possible. It needs to be compatible and also directly exchangeable with existing roof tiles, in such a way that they may be mounted directly on the same framework as under traditional tiles. Methods for cleaning and exchanging dirty/broken tiles must be compiled. The system will be compatible to all climates, and we will develop a more robust version for Nordic climates and/or other challenging regions with snow, wind, rain or dust. The idea was to develop a protection glass, which also reduces the heat loss from the tubes to the air, but we will also evaluate and test other possibilities. We will conduct a feasibility study of the tiles, which includes to identify the optimal geometry, heat transfer, working fluid etc. to verify the technological solution of which we will derive our product. Then we will analyze need and demands for the new system, and determine the key requirements specifications for the concept, including functions, subcomponents and materials. A challenge is to ensure that the entire system is waterproof, and we need to make optimal material selection for all parts (tile base, reflector, tube, clips etc.) The main activity is to develop the tiles, which includes materials and geometry of the base of the tiles, clip-on mounting system, parabolic-shaped collector “bowls”/plates with reflector material and the placement system of the collector tubes. In addition to develop the tiles, we will also acquire new knowledge, do through research and conduct several physical test iterations for the working fluid and heat transfer system. We need to find the best option for your solutions, and test and evaluate both open and closed loop, and if we will develop a passive system based on heat convection or an active based on a pump to circulate the fluid. For systems that will be mounted on houses an electrical pump might be the best choice, but we also want to develop a completely independent system in combination with Solar Power PV (Photovoltaic elements) due to the low power needed to run such a pump. An interface solution to existing waterborne system must also be developed. An advanced control and monitoring system for the system must be developed. This includes layout of the circuit board, and selecting all components, sensors, transmitters etc. We will research which components exists and select the suitable quality and standards, in accordance with technical specifications and requirements. We also need to develop a safety system, and security protocols for the system in case of over-heating and/or freezing or other errors. The next phase will be to develop a full-scale prototypes of the final concepts to test and evaluate the different possibilities for the complete system. We need to valuate if any parts must be adapted or tailored for our solution. We need to find suppliers for suitable components to create the complete system, such as electrical components, selected pump system, deposit tank, collector tubes etc. The prototypes will go through thorough testing, and continuous evaluation based on internal and external feedback to improve the final product until all demands and requirements are met. We also need to get the necessary certifications and CE marking from a third part classification organization.
Challenges that may determine the impact of the project: 
Title: 
Over-heating and/or freezing
Description: 
We need to protect our system for over-heating and/or freezing depending to make it suitable for all climates. We already have several ideas that we want to test, but an optimal solution must be developed so that we can sell our product worldwide. We also need to compensate for the changes in ambient temperature and moisture during the day-night cycle, and the differences in ambient temperature and moisture from solar radiation between summer and winter.
Title: 
Gaskets and interconnection of collector tubes
Description: 
Another crucial component are the gaskets and interconnection solution between each collector tube section. The flexible “puzzle” of tiles makes the solution extremely adaptable to all roof areas, but it also introduces a challenge to make everything completely sealed to avoid any leakages.
Title: 
The tiles does not resemble traditional roof
Description: 
One challenge or one inconvenience of the system is the unusual/different design of the tiles/reflectors which does not resemble a traditional roof. The roof will look like a mirror, and may cause unpopular reflections, but since the tiles are faced upwards to the sun they will not affect traffic or people on street level. This is still a fact that we need to evaluate and include in our design to minimize the effect.
Title: 
IP
Description: 
IP, we need to do through research to see of there is anything stopping us. We also want to try to patent our solution if this turns out to be possible.
Partners that have already expressed interest in the project and expected role: 
Title: 
Techni (Horten, Norway)
Description: 
Techni – has developed a control and monitoring system that possibly can be adapted to the needs of our solution. They will be a partner and/or sub supplier of this system.
Title: 
One Earth Designs (USA, Norway, Hong Kong)
Description: 
One Earth Designs - reflector technology. Produces solar cookers, and specializes in material technology and will contribute with knowledge, experience and test reflectors. They will be a partner and/or sub supplier of the reflector mirror.
Profile of partners sought and expected role: 
Title: 
Advanced plastic production
Description: 
We are seeking a partner/producer of advanced plastic casting and/or extrusion that can assist in the development of the tiles and material selection.
Title: 
Universities/research institutions/"Engineers without borders"
Description: 
We are seeking a research/development partner that can assist in the development of the system for developing countries. Particularly, contacts in suitable areas for testing and feedback. We would also like to cooperate with a similar type of project which is developing a cooking facility to implement our solution with theirs.
Specific countries/regions/cities you are keen to collaborate with: 
No preference
First Name: 
Gina
Last Name: 
Limseth
Name of the organisation: 
NODIN-Innovation
Short description of organisation: 
NODIN-Innovation AS is a R&D company. Through many years NODIN-Innovation AS has acquired extensive technologic knowledge and competence within business idea, strategy, and product development. We have built up a comprehensive network of sub-suppliers and manufactures both nationally and internationally.

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