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UC students create better, cheaper solar thermal system

Students at UC Merced

Students at the University of California Merced, led by Professor Roland Winston, have created a a solar thermal collection system that could prove to be easier, cheaper and more efficient than anything currently available.

The External Compound Parabolic Concentrators (XCPCs) concentrates sunlight onto a specially-designed collector tube, which converts sunlight energy into heat. This heat can then be fed into any building’s heating system and used to generate electricity or to run an absorption chiller-style air conditioner such as an Ice Bear, a cold air air-conditioning unit.

This system is unique in many ways, It’s stationary as opposed to having to track the sun throughout the day. And it’s performance is dramatically higher than standard photovoltaics, achieving 60 percent energy efficiency versus PV’s standard 15-20 percent. Simpler, cheaper, more efficient – what could be better than that! Let’s hope this innovative system makes it to the marketplace.


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