Heliotube, Solar Concentrator With Recycled Plastics That Cuts Solar Thermal Energy Costs By Half

HelioTube

HelioTube, a new concept of solar concentrator created from recycled plastics by the Austrian company Heliovis AG, returns to Spain to install itself in a mushroom-producing plant in Albacete, after having established its pilot plant in the same province, in which tested the results of this technology, which can revolutionize solar thermal energy with a cost saving of 55% and a reduction in CO2 emissions of 40% compared to conventional installations.

This concentrator in which the European Commission sees enormous potential to boost concentrated solar energy, which sets a new standard due to its low carbon footprint, consists of a cylindrical structure 220 meters long and 9 meters in diameter made of recycled plastic , flexible, durable and very light, aspect reduces weight by up to 90% compared to conventional parabolic plants, which usually use large amounts of steel and glass.

This concentrator is built with three plastic films that are integrated into a totally hermetic system. The first of these layers is a transparent ETFE film that favors the entry of light, which impacts on the second sheet, made of PET plastic, behind which another one of PVC is placed.

The structure has two separate chambers that, thanks to a pressure difference, favor the concentration of light and the conversion of solar radiation into thermal energy.

In this video of the HelioTube experience in Castilla la Mancha you can see the operation of this system, which incorporates a motor to rotate on itself up to 340 degrees. According to the company promoting these concentrators, each tube produces one megawatt of thermal energy.

In addition to production, the advantages of HelioTube compared to conventional solar thermal energy systems are many, among them the ease of scaling the system, its lower costs, its reduced environmental impact and, in addition, the facilities it represents for logistics and transport. In fact, HelioTube is rollable and can be transported in standard containers to the place where they will be installed, for which it will only be necessary to inflate them and start operating.

HelioTube can represent an advance in energy supply through solar thermal energy which, compared to solar photovoltaic, usually offers better results in terms of production stability and storage capacity. Its possible applications are very varied, but they include electricity supply, water desalination, refrigeration or industrial processes through heat, such as pasteurization, sterilization or drying.

Before this progress enters the commercialization phase, it will be tested again in the province of Albacete, specifically in a facility in Villalgordo de Lúcar, where a mushroom production plant of the Mercajucar cooperative will replace part of the energy obtained up to now of diesel and pellets by which HelioTube contributes. The company had already developed its pilot test in this area of ​​Spain, one of the countries in the world that can benefit the most from this advance, especially designed for sunny regions.

More information at Heliovis.

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