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John O | March 2017

European engineers design emission-free, solar-powered chiller

Engineers at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and German company ZAE Bayern have created an emission-free, solar-powered chiller that is being tested in the two countries and has the potential to fulfill a worldwide market for air conditioning and heating with minimal electricity requirements.



Prototype 2 (right) and series SF100-03 reference collector (left) on ZAE test-rig.
(VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland)


According to a press release from the research center, the collaboration has created a 10 kW absorption chiller that includes a solar thermal collector and needs electricity only to power the flow pumps. It can also be used as a heater, although initial reports indicate that a 50 kW chiller (or larger) would be needed for this function.


The home office of Finnish company Savo-Solar Plc, which was involved in the design and planning stages, was successfully cooled using the chiller. It was tested both during the summer months as an air conditioner and also during the winter as a heater.


The press release continued, “Solar collectors on the roof of the building were used to collect the required energy. If the collectors did not produce enough energy during, say, the winter, or on a cloudy day, a heat pump served as a substitute energy source. Other possible energy sources would be district heating, biofuel boilers or industrial process heat.”


The goal for the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and for ZAE Bayern is to create a chiller that is commercially viable and can cut electricity bills and reduce emissions by not requiring any electricity.


A full report of the chillers’ use in Europe can be read at http://www.vtt.fi/inf/pdf/technology/2017/T287.pdf

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