MechTest – Characterization of mechanical load cases caused by wind and snow on solar thermal collectors

MechTest - New mechanical load test stand
© Fraunhofer ISE

New mechanical load test stand at Fraunhofer ISE. To investigate the stability and safety of solar thermal collectors under wind and snow loads, the test stand is housed in a climate chamber.

MechTest - New mechanical load test stand
© Fraunhofer ISE

New mechanical load test stand at Fraunhofer ISE. To investigate the stability and safety of solar thermal collectors under wind and snow loads, the test stand is housed in a climate chamber.

In recent years in Europe shortcomings have been determined regarding standardization and certification in the field of mechanical safety for solar thermal systems. This is visible through insufficient mechanical requirements in the relevant testing standards, as well as the fact that fixing- and mounting systems are not considered. Therefore manufacturers are forced to investigate themselves the mechanical safety for their own products.

The project “MechTest” (funded by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) in Germany) was initiated to analyze the situation and find solutions. The purpose of the project “MechTest” was to characterize the mechanical load cases caused by wind and snow on solar thermal collectors and their fixing- and mounting systems. As part of the project reported cases of damage and their causes were analyzed, a new test facility was developed and commissioned, a series of mechanical load tests (also at different climatic conditions) and two field tests at locations with extreme weather conditions were performed.

One of the most important results is a new testing method, making it possible to test the combination of the collector including fixings and mountings under realistic load cases. The results of the test series also showed that parts of the fixing and mounting system are in most cases the weakest point, which is in good compliance with the outcomes of the analysis of the damage reports. The new test method has shown itself to be well suited to determine these weakest points up to breakage within the system of collector, fixings and mountings experimentally.

Additionally the new testing method was compared to the corresponding standards with the aim to determine the potential to reduce compliance costs and the time needed.

Further Information: Final Report MechTest (Language: German) [ PDF  3.74 MB ]