Development of innovative components

© Fraunhofer ISE
Teiltransparenter Solarkollektor mit winkelselektivem Sonnenschutz

Innovative components for low-temperature solar thermal technology and combined solar power and heat generation (PV-T)

In addition to improving concentrating and non-concentrating collectors according to the state of the art, we also develop new product concepts for solar thermal technology. Alternative manufacturing processes and materials help us to create innovative absorber designs. Our bespoke bionic FracTherm® procedure creates channel structures on almost any surface with only minor drops in pressure and a uniform flow distribution. Multifunctional collectors open up new opportunities in the solar thermal market. Across departments, we work together to develop collectors with additional features such as partial transparency, solar control, glare protection, structural functions or architectural design. Photovoltaic-thermal collectors are able to produce both electricity and heat in one component at the same time. Here, too, we apply our expertise in solar cells, module and collector technology as well as thermal and electric measurement procedures. Solar air collectors provide an interesting alternative to water-based systems, and we compare and optimize them through measurement and simulation. Moreover, we use optical simulation to improve and develop both static and tracking concentrating collectors. In addition to collectors, storage systems are an important key component of thermal solar systems. We optimize conventional, water-based storage systems and develop new heat storage concepts.

We also carry out significant activities in the area of “efficient heat transfer”, one interesting example being the use of heat pipes in solar technology.

© Fraunhofer ISE
Numerische Simulation zur Ermittlung der Temperaturverteilung und des Kollektorwirkungsgradfaktors F' in einem Solarabsorber

Our services

Do you already work in the solar thermal industry and want to improve your products? Are you looking for innovative ideas for a new generation of collectors? Do you come from a different sector and are you nevertheless familiar with production processes, or do you produce materials which may be useful for solar thermal technology, but don’t know how to use them to develop a competitive product? Or would you like to combine photovoltaics and solar thermal technology to create a viable product?

We provide support in all of these cases, drawing on our many years of experience with a wide range of projects, most of which have been carried out in collaboration with the industry. We assist our clients with improving existing absorbers, collectors, storage systems and heat exchangers, or with developing new concepts by carrying out tasks ranging from analyzing the situation and theoretical optimization using simulation, to developing samples, constructing prototypes and series production. We use physical models for thermal and hydraulic simulation and test benches for experimental validation. Our solar simulator allows us to obtain measurements to compare the developments with the state of the art at high repeat accuracy. Our cross-departmental expertise in the area of photovoltaic-thermal collectors fulfills the requirements of both photovoltaics and solar thermal technology, and allows us to develop marketable products. Fraunhofer ISE is able to carry out spectrally selective coating of prototypes and small batches, thanks to our many years of experience in coating technology.