Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering
Trinity Haus, Trinity College Dublin
Facade integrated concrete solar collectors
Keywords: Solar thermal energy; facade integration; concrete solar collector; domestic hot water consumption; building typology; thermally conductive concrete.
Over one third of the global final energy consumption is associated to buildings, with heating, cooling and domestic hot water preparation accounting for over half of this figure. Solar thermal technologies offer an environmentally friendly way of providing for this energy consumption, traditionally supplied through the burning of fossil fuels. Integrating solar technologies into the skin of the building is advantageous since the available solar capture area is increased when compared to roof attached systems; additionally, materials used in the building can be offset.
Concrete is a popular cladding material for apartment blocks and other high rise buildings. Exploiting this area of exposed concrete to harvest solar energy would offer a cheaper alternative to the current state of the art solar thermal technologies.
The aim of this research is to investigate the potential of a facade integrated concrete solar collector. A parametric analysis of the concrete collector, by way of finite element simulation, allows for the identification of the most sensitive parameters, in terms of performance.
These parameters, including concrete conductivity, are optimized through experimental investigation. Construction and outdoor testing of the optimized concrete solar collector, validation of the model and an economic analysis will answer the research question of whether a cost efficient concrete solar collector can offer significant energy savings for buildings.