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Jisan Research Group develops a new solar thermal heating device.


The Solar Thermal Research Group, consisting of eleven precollege researchers and one Research Mentor, has successfully designed and tested a novel water heater whose heating is provided entirely by the sun. Called a solar thermal water heater, the new device captures solar energy at the top of a building or house in the form of heat and transfers that heat to a water tank stored in the structure's basement or ground floor.

Actually solar thermal water heaters have been commercial products since the 1800's in America. The concept is much older; solar energy has been providing heating for humans for thousands of years. Today there are many commercial providers of solar thermal heating products.

What makes the JRI version new and interesting is that it eliminates a key component of modern solar thermal devices. Modern devices come from two general flavors: active and passive. Active devices pump a working fluid through the heater in order to circulate heat captured by the solar collectors to the water tank. Passive systems rely on unpowered mechanisms, which can be quite a bit slower and generally requires the heat to move upward rather than downward.

What the JRI pump achieves is the removal of the mechanical pump from the system whilst still providing active circulation of the working fluid, which is water in this case. The result is a pump capable of moving heat many stories in elevation with a passive recirculation method. The method is capable of moving large amounts of water, removing a limitation of wick-based or capillary-based methodologies. Moreover, the device is cheap and requires minimal maintenance. This makes it ideal for application in households and in developing areas of the world.

The team is planning to present their paper entitled A Membrane-Enabled Solar Heat Pipe for Solar Thermal Water Heating at the EFEA 2012 conference being held at Northumbria College in the United Kingdom in June.

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