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Kingspan research project makes solar leap

Source: www.irishtimes.com

A PIONEERING Northern Ireland-based research project could be set to transform the way solar technology is harnessed to provide environmentally friendly energy solutions.

The three-year project, spearheaded by Kingspan Renewables in Co Armagh, has resulted in a progressive new product which could make it easier to adopt solar technology at home and in the workplace.

Kingspan Renewables, which has an established track record in solar thermal technology, has developed a new modular vacuum tube solar collector using high-performance polymer materials.

A solar collector captures the heat energy of the sun which can then be use to either provide a source of heat or hot water. In general, solar collectors can be of flat-plate or evacuated-tube variety.

According to Shane Caher, operations director of Kingspan Renewables, the company’s new “Varisol” solar collector has enhanced manifold technology and represents a first for the industry.

“What we have done is build on technology which we had already perfected and taken it one step further.

“We listened to what our customers and the market was telling us about flexibility and cost-efficiency issues.

“We have developed what I believed is a revolutionary product because it will change the way solar technology can be used – it will make it more affordable to the end-user,” Mr Caher said.

He said that what made the Northern Ireland product different from what was already on the market was the fact that it offered end-users the flexibility to employ solar technology in a way which suited them.

Kingspan Renewables claims the versatility of its new modular vacuum tube solar collector should make it a globally marketable product.

The new product has also eliminated brazing, welding and the use of copper and aluminium in its production and installation which, according to the company, also helps lower its carbon footprint.

Mr Caher said Kingspan Technology took advantage of advances in material sciences to create a product that he believed would help support and sustain jobs at its operation in Portadown.

The company hopes the new product will also deliver a new source of revenue and help boost overall sales for the facility which has suffered as a result of the general downturn in the construction market. Kingspan Renewables was established just three years ago in the North, when the Kingspan group acquired the Thermomax brand of solar vacuum tubes.

Mr Caher said the research project which subsequently delivered the new modular tube solar collector was supported by local economic development agency Invest Northern Ireland.

“We have developed very strong relationships with both local universities and academics in Northern Ireland and we have also received good government support, so, for us, Northern Ireland is a very attractive place to operate.”

 






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