Solar water heaters are one of these great inventions that often serve more than one incredible purpose. Using the energy of the sun, this technology not only provides free hot water, but it also acts as an energy storage device for excess energy harvested through solar panels.
The existing solar water heating systems are relatively efficient, and this is why they are often the preferred solar energy harvester in households. However, a boost of efficiency has the potential to turn them from a good to excellent, and this is exactly what a team of scientists from the Technological Institute of the Lagoon (ITL) in Mexico, are offering.
The team developed a superconducting ink, which can be applied onto the pipes of the solar water heaters boosting their efficiency by as much as 70%. The ink is essentially a paint that consists of seven individual layers and sets super fast. The heat trapping layer is the internal one, and comprises of titanium nanoparticles. Above this is a layer of tunsdten nano salt and polyvivyl alcohol, and on top is a layer of copper, which is darkened in order to assist the heating process.
The guys tested their invention on solar water heating system that heats up an entire swimming pool at a sports complex. They noted that 2 million cubic meters of water could be heated from 26 °C to 37 °C (79 °F to 98°F). The team also tested it on household heaters, claiming that as little as five meters of pipes coated with this ink, instantly heats the water flowing through it to 68 °C (154 °F).
The technology is now being patented, and it is also being prepared for the market. The estimated cost for a liter of the ink should be about $40, but this amount of the coating would be sufficient to cover the entire piping system of four households. In comparison to alternative products, the price is nearly half.
The only thing that stands in the way of the team now is the optimization of the process that produces the nanoparticle layer, so that the ink can be produced in larger amounts.
Image (c) Getty