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MIS (Méditerranée Industrie Solaire, France) and Saint-Gobain Vetrotex (France) have co-developed an innovative new solar collector made of thermoplastic glass-fibre composite instead of metal.
(Published on December 2005 – JEC Magazine #21)
Research teams came up with the idea of thermoforming solar collectors using sheets of Twintex® reinforcement material.
The mould gives the sheets the form of the collector, including the internal grooves in which a heating fluid flows. The MIS collector is black for best heat absorption, and is framed beneath a sheet of glass or polycarbonate. Once installed in a location with good exposure to the sun, it absorbs the heat of the sun’s rays and transmits it to a heating fluid, which then flows to a water-heater tank.
The heated water is then fed from the tank to apartments or public facilities such as hospitals and gymnasiums, eliminating the need for electricity to heat the water. The water can also be used to heat swimming pools or for solar-heated flooring.
Twintex® is a range of thermoplastic reinforcements based on commingled unidirectional thermoplastic and glass fibre. By blending glass and thermoplastic filaments within the reinforcement, Saint-Gobain Vetrotex has solved the problem of impregnating continuous glass fibres with thermoplastic resins at low cost.
The textile can be woven and heated to form sheets with varying levels of stiffness and thickness.
The MIS solar collector is smaller, more compact and lighter than a traditional collector, and so it is easier to handle and install, while being more efficient: the heating fluid content is almost 10 times greater than in a traditional collector.
The fluid circulates more slowly and longer, ensuring that the system is less sensitive to passing cloud cover.
With few components, the collector is the result of a very simple manufacturing process that gives a better-quality end product and an excellent price-to-quality ratio, as it is 15% cheaper than the existing technology. The reinforcement material makes this collector extremely strong, highly resistant to impact, and suitable for use with high temperatures.
The collector is corrosion-proof and water resistant, and its lifespan is well above that of conventional systems. Finally, thanks to the use of Twintex®, a fully recyclable material, the collector is 100% environmentally friendly.
An award-winning design
The MIS solar collector has been patented, and was awarded a French Ministry of Research Award in 2002.
The collector also competed for the last AVK-TV Composite innovation prizes in the environment category at the 8th International AVK-TV Conference for reinforced Plastics and Moulding Compounds in September 2005 in Baden- Baden, Germany.