Any manufacturing business relies on various energy sources to power their industrial processes and as energy costs form a significant part of a companies overheads it makes sense to look for ways to reduce energy bills, particularly if it also increases the usage of renewable energy.
We’ll look at how solar thermal water heating can help businesses reduce their industrial energy costs in this article.
What is solar thermal water heating?
We are all familiar with the roof mounted solar panels that are fitted to an increasing number of domestic properties. These can be of two types – to capture solar energy for power usage, or to capture solar energy for heating purposes.
Industrial thermal water heating systems work in a similar way in that they use solar collection panels or tubes to collect energy from the sun. The captured energy is then transferred to a closed loop pumped circuit containing polypropylene glycol which then transports the solar heat to a pressurized water tank via a heat exchanger.
Hot water within the pressurized tank can then be used for heating of industrial premises or for manufacturing processes requiring hot water.
These systems are obviously dependent on energy from the sun so the solar collectors should be mounted to face south (in the northern hemisphere) in order to maximize their hours of sun exposure. If a south facing installation is not possible then more collectors would be required to compensate for the reduced amount of sun exposure.
Similarly, the heat requirements for a manufacturer should be calculated in order to calculate the amount of solar heat needed so that the number and positioning of the collection panels or tubes can be assessed during the planning phase of the installation.
Components of a solar water heating system
In addition to the solar collectors already mentioned, careful consideration for the pipe work is required as these thermal systems run at high operating temperatures that precludes the use of plastic piping. Copper or even stainless steel pipes should be specified and all components such as heat exchangers and heating manifolds such as these https://hydrosolar.ca/collections/radiant-hydronic-heating-manifolds should be designed to withstand high temperatures and pressures.
Once the system has been installed and is operational, there should be little to no user input required as the heating of water will occur once the collectors receive energy from the sun. However it is important that control systems are incorporated into these installations and these will often be engraved using stainless steel laser systems such as these https://lasermarktech.com/applications to ensure that markings can also withstand high temperatures and pressures.
Operational and maintenance considerations
As stated previously, once installed, these systems are mostly set and forget as the pumps start automatically once a certain amount of solar energy has been received and shut down once solar levels fall below a preset threshold.
It is important that the system incorporates safety measures that prevent too much undissipated heat build up and also protects the system from freezing in cold weather as low temperatures increase the viscosity of the polypropylene glycol.
Once running fault free, many suppliers of these solar thermal water systems state that no maintenance is required for around five years, though it makes sense to undertake regular inspections to check for leaks and the correct operation of the pumps and safety measures.
Manufacturers are, in general, have heavy power usage requirements so finding ways to reduce energy costs for heating and hot water resources is welcome for many businesses.
Capturing the suns energy and then transferring solar heated water throughout the premises is an effective long-term solution that should prove to be operationally reliable and require minimum maintenance.
There is obviously an investment required in designing and implementing a solar water heating system, however the on-going cost savings should prove significant over time and the use of these systems will play a significant role in reducing the environmental impact of the manufacturer, which can also bring benefits with a company’s green credentials and social responsibilities.