Rather than waste our electrical energy heating water, our home features solid flat-panel thermal collectors which efficiently use solar energy to heat water.
|Sunlight is reflected and focused on narrow water pipes running throughout the thermal collector, which raises the water temperature. This hot water
is used to:
1) heat potable water for drinking, cooking and bathing
2) generate hot air for house heating needs
3) power revolutionary solar air-conditioning through the use of a 5-ton absorption chiller
Absorption Chilling Technology
The absorption chiller, in the most simplistic sense, allows a building to use thermal collectors to power its air-conditioning. The water heated by solar energy in these collectors is used to initiate a thermal dynamic process involving low-pressure chambers that chills water to around 44 degrees Fahrenheit. The chilled water is then brought to a series of copper pipes that efficiently cool air blown through the pipes and into the home. Except for a few pumps, the system is entirely passive, has no moving parts and requires no electrical input.
Most other prototype models in development are natural gas-fired or use hydroflourocarbon refrigerants that are known to have a significant impact on earth's ozone. Our chiller, developed by Yazaki, is water-fired and uses a lithium bromide refrigerant that is non-toxic and environmentally-friendly.
We acquired our absorption chiller as a prototype - one of only two in the world with a capacity between 2 and 5 tons. Our thermal system utilizes the first well-functioning unit small enough to be viable for small-scale residential and commercial use. Because of the Santa Clara University Solar Decathlon Team's development of the integrated solar air-conditioning system, Yazaki has obtained UL approval (a necessary electrical code) for the 5-ton system...and Solarsa is taking it to market.
Read Solarsa's Press Release, September 17 (PDF 17 KB) for more information about the future of solar air-conditiong and SCU's place in its development.
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|click to watch a flash animation
explaining the process