02_Dragon-Star_Best practice_phot_HullUniversity of Hull, (United Kingdom

Xudong Zhao

Shanghai Pacific Energy Centre (China)

Jihuan Xu (and others)





What is the innovation and what is it about?

The innovation addressed the joint R&D works of a novel loop heat pipe (LHP) and its application in solar thermal and photovoltaic/thermal (PV/T) systems. A novel vapour-liquid separator incorporated LHP structure is initiated to simplify the wick structure, eliminate the ‘dry-out’ potential, and thus create a high-efficient and cost-effective heat transport solution to solar thermal collecting and PV/T systems. This new LHP concept offers significant advantages by increasing the heat pipe’s heat transport capacity by 86% and 62% over the conventional straight heat pipe and LHP in gravitational field. Application of the new LHP into the solar thermal collecting and PV/T systems enables a major renovation against existing solar thermal collecting and PV/T technologies, leading to enhanced solar thermal and electrical efficiencies. The European partners (mainly University of Hull, assisted by University of Nottingham and De Montfort University) were responsible for concept, numerical analysis, laboratory testing, data interpretation and socio-economic assessment; while the Chinese partners (mainly Shanghai Pacific Energy Centre, assisted by University of Science and Technology of China, Shanghai Solar Energy Research Centre, Nantong Xingyun Energy Co. Ltd.) were involved in fabrication, pilot demonstration, dissemination and exploitation activities.

What are the key impacts?

This project has the important impacts on scientific, technological and industrial sectors:

  • The building fossil fuel energy consumption could be potentially reduced by 30% to 50%;
  • Cost of the new technologies is 10% to 20% less than the conventional ones;
  • Easy to operate system and its installation has low intrusiveness and impact onto the users;
  • Better quality standard and performance compared to conventional systems;
  • The new technologies could create a large quantity of replication;
  • The new technologies would create new high-tech industries and high skilled jobs.

What are the added values and what were the biggest challenges of your cooperation?

The most important added value is the consolidated long-term collaboration on further R&D and application of the new LHP technology by establishing the new businesses in Europe and China. This notable technology should open up an enormous new global business in the solar energy sector, thus creating considerable impact on the economy, industry and the environment within the EU, China and beyond.

The most critical challenges might lie in initial concept development, required new skills and process for fabrication, practical technology implementation, regular secondment to partners and the new business boost.