Thermal performance predictions and tests of a novel type of flat plate solar thermal collectors by integrating with a freeze tolerance solution

Jie Deng, Tadhg S. O'Donovan, Zhiyong Tian*, Josh King, Stuart Speake

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
77 Downloads (Pure)


A novel design concept of Flat Plate Solar Collectors (FPSCs) is conceived and developed by integrating with a freeze-tolerant (so-called ‘ice immune’) solution using flexible silicone tubing. It is intended to directly run water in the solar thermal systems with the FPSCs instead of using expensive anti-freeze fluids, and to remove secondary heat transfer facilities (e.g. an extra tank with a buried heat exchanger). Successful development of such kind of solar thermal collectors will enable a reduction of installed cost of conventional solar thermal systems without needing secondary heat transfer facilities. In the prophase design, thermal performances of FPSCs with two configurations, i.e. the serpentine tube type and the header riser type, were predicted based on the collector lumped thermal capacitance model alongside CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) calculations. Then two prototypes of FPSCs with the ice-immune silicone tubing (one AES serpentine tube type, one modified Chinese micro-heat-pipe-array panel) were made to determine the collector performance and compared to an original AES solar keymark reference panel via experimental tests. The results show that the Chinese micro-heat-pipe-array panel performs better than the AES header riser solar keymark panel in terms of flow rate per m2 collector aperture area, while the AES serpentine tube panel with silicone tubing performs somewhat lower than the solar keymark with Tm ≤0.035 and better than the solar keymark when Tm >0.035. The serpentine tube panel and the Chinese micro-heat-pipe-array panel both integrated with silicone tubing for freeze tolerance are proven to be effective as the modification doesn't compromise the collector thermal performance markedly.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111784
JournalEnergy Conversion and Management
Early online date11 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2019


  • Collector thermal efficiency curve
  • Flat plate solar collector
  • Freeze tolerance
  • Thermal performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology


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