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Building better solar thermal concentrators for industry

Invention Number: 
A Concentrating Solar Collector with Built-in Shell and Tube Latent Heat Thermal Energy Storage


The Invention

This invention is an integrated medium temperature collection and storage system that eliminates the need for bulky storage tanks. That is, a package consisting of several solar receiver units and several cylindrical latent heat thermal energy storage-devices located in the same box. These storage-devices use a shell-and-tube configuration and a phase change material (PCM) that has a high energy density. The invention would enable industrial consumers to have a reliable, low profile, solar-powered system, which integrates well with rooftops and industrial processes.

In the system, solar energy can be either directly sent to the thermal load or stored in these shell-and-tube storage devices for later use. When the solar resource is low, the stored thermal energy can continue to provide thermal energy for at least one hour. 

Key Benefits

  • A convenient (semi- plug-and-play) package is designed for solar energy collection and storage
  • Adding the storage units will increase the capital costs by around 10%, but it can increase the annual thermal output of the unit by up to ~20%
  • This design represents an effective and, potentially, lower-cost approach to bringing rooftop solar thermal into industrial heating applications
  • Utilises the 'dead space' of concentrating solar collectors where sunlight does not shine

Potential Applications

  • The development of ‘stationary’ rooftop solar thermal systems
  • Upgrading the current evacuated tube collector/system
  • Concentrating Photovoltaics (PV) collectors
  • Industrial heating process
  • Solar cooling and heating (Air conditioning) 

Technical / Scientific Data  

Please see the following publication regarding this patent: Published in Energy Journal, Volume 121, 15 February 2017, Pages 220–237:

Title: Techno-economic analysis of a concentrating solar collector with built-in shell and tube latent heat thermal energy storage (Summary: In this paper, the feasibility of a medium temperature, low profile concentrated solar thermal collector integrated with latent heat thermal energy storage (LHTES) is investigated.)

The link of publication:

Researcher Details 

Dr. Robert Taylor

Mr. S. Saeed Mostafavi Tehrani 

Mr. Qiyuan Li


UNSW is seeking a partner to work with the researchers on further developing this technology for additional applications.