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A selection of current SPF projects

In this section we provide an overview of research activities currently underway at the SPF institute. These projects are in principle open to the participation from representatives from the economic and research sectors. This allows you to benefit from the competence of SPF close at hand.

EU project MacSheep

The EU project MacSheep is coordinated by the Institut für Solartechnik SPF and deals with the development of heating systems which combine solar thermal energy with heat pump technologies. The ambitious goal is to reach a reduction of 25% of the electric energy use of those systems in comparison to the state of the art of 2011/2012 within the four years of the project. These research and development activities receive funding from the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Union under grant no. 282825. The project start was in January 2012. More information can be found on the project website.

Combined solar and heat pump systems

The combination of solar thermal systems with heat pumps is used increasingly for space heating and domestic hot water preparation in the building sector. Both technologies are considered to be key-technologies for the abatement of green house gas emissions. The combination of heat pumps with solar thermal heat increases the system’s efficiency and thus the electricity demand. Possibilities for the combination are versatile, and the question arises under which circumstances it is advantageous to use solar thermal collectors also for providing heat for the evaporator of the heat pump.

SPF is carrying out research in this field in the framework of the IEA-SHC Task 44 in international cooperation with other institutes and the industry. Our main focus is the development and evaluation of new system concepts with the aid of computer simulations and laboratory testing with the well-proven Concise Cycle Test.

Interested manufacturers may take part in the research project.

Polymers in solar thermal systems

A fast-growing market for solar thermal systems combined with the constantly increasing prices of the relevant commodities urged for a reflection to be made on the existing architecture of solar systems. In this context the polymers, which have been considered of little importance so far, may take on a key role in the future. When speaking of large volumes these particularly cost-effective production methods seem to be posing interesting cost-saving potentials.

SPF is carrying out research in this field within the framework of the IEA-SHC Task 39 in close international cooperation with other research agencies and industry. Our main focus is on designing innovative collectors and carrying out durability tests on the polymers employed.

Solar thermal cooling

Increasing requirements for building cooling (not only in the summertime) and the consequent overload of electrical networks is turning into a major challenge. In this context solar cooling in general and solar thermal cooling in particular may make for an attractive variant in the reduction of required electrical power.

The SPF institute is actively engaged in this field and contributes to development within the framework of the IEA SHC Task 38 “Solar Air Conditioning and Refrigeration”. A technology involving the release of heat in a hybrid cooler can be used as an alternative to open cooling towers in the medium-temperature range. It is being tested and improved with the 10kW LiBr-H2O STATC laboratory system. System simulations with Polysun 5 are validated with measurement results.

Performance analysis and improvement of a combined pellet-solar system for heating and hot water production

Both pellet heating systems and solar thermal systems are undergoing a current surgence in growth. The goal of this project is the energetic improvement of systems combining pellet boilers and solar systems. Pellet and solar heating systems are combined on our test rigs and specifically tested under realistic operating conditions for operation and efficiency. The 12-day test procedure employed in this context is a procedure developed by SPF that is able to cover the conditions (atmospheric conditions, hot water requirements, building load, etc.) typically occurring over a year. With the help of the recorded data we validated a simulation model that is later used to work out yearly sums.

Solar thermal treatment of drinking water in emerging and developing countries

1.8 million people die every year from diarrhoeal diseases; 90% of them are children aged under 5 years. This is due to a lack of sanitary facilities, hygiene and, to a great extent, the consumption of contaminated water. The goal of this project is to develop drinking water treatment methods able to provide an added value with respect to existing technologies and therefore significantly contribute to improve the quality of drinking water in emerging and developing countries. A preliminary study allowed the identification of potential for solar thermal drinking water treatment at a small-scale municipal level (between 100 and 1000 litres a day). At SPF work is currently focussing on the technical development of a solar water pasteurization system that is able to treat the largest possible amount of water with the lowest possible investment costs. The microbiological principles affecting the system design were identified within the framework of a sub-project carried out in partnership with EAWAG. Have a look at the Factsheet for further information.

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