Heat your building with the sun
If you fill 5 litres of water in a black plastic bag, place it in the sun, and wait for a few minutes, you can take a warm shower. A solar thermal system works according to the same principle. Pure water, however, won’t work in a modern solar thermal system.
>> read more
Germany is a very sunny country. Did you know that? If you’ve heard this before, one look out the window here might give you some doubts. But numbers don’t lie. The sun shines an average of 1,500 hours each year in Germany. That means each square meter of German soil receives 50% as much solar irradiation a square meter of the Sahara desert.
No kidding. We wouldn’t have believed it either — until we were approached 35 years ago to develop a special heat transfer fluid for solar thermal collectors. So we became immersed in the topic of sunlight as part of our work and discovered that it’s a very exciting field.
Solar thermal for everyone
Solar thermal systems take the radiant energy of the sun and transform it into heat. In domestic households, this collected energy is normally used for heating and hot water. Industrial applications involve a number of additional uses such as process heat. Although solar thermal still takes a back seat to other renewable sources of energy, it will continue to grow in popularity as energy prices rise. And it’s amazing what solar thermal systems can do: The average annual temperature at the South Pole is –55°C. A solar thermal system installed on the roof of the Georg-von-Neumayer research station, where German Antarctic researchers stay for the winter, brings the room temperature in the lab up to a cozy 20°C. During the bright summer months only, of course, but still.
How does solar thermal work?
The concept behind solar thermal energy is “no big thing”: Sunlight hits an absorber — a surface that is good at absorbing and conducting heat — to which copper or aluminum pipes containing a circulating liquid are attached. The cooler liquid absorbs the heat and carries it away. Pretty simple — you might think. But in practice it’s a slightly different story. Because what you get out of a solar thermal system depends on both the thermal conductivity of the absorber material and the system’s thermal capacity.
Pure water flows the fastest. But in a solar thermal system, it would lead to corrosion. It would also freeze in winter, expanding and destroying the piping. The same thing can happen in the summer when the sun shines down on the system but the heat is not carried away because heaters are normally turned off in summer and the hot water tank may have reached its maximum temperature. If this happens, the entire system heats up: flat-plate collectors can reach temperatures in excess of 200°C. Evacuated tube collectors can go as high as 300°C.
That’s why a liquid is needed that has a high thermal capacity, does not freeze in winter, protects the lines against corrosion, is compatible with all the metals and seals used in the system, cannot ignite, and is non-toxic. In addition, the liquid must of course resist aging. Because when conventional fluids age, corrosive substances almost always result — and that’s no good for any solar system.
The solution: TYFOCOR® LS®
Our developers have made a breakthrough and developed the ideal solar fluid: TYFOCOR® LS®. We’re very proud that this product ensures efficient heat transfer in some of the largest solar thermal systems in Europe, with all the major manufacturers relying on our product quality.
Solar energy, whether it’s used to produce electricity or heat, is an important part of the energy supply. And its share of the total is growing. Because the technology just keeps improving — and we’re doing our part to ensure Germany’s transition to renewables is a success.
TYFOCOR®-brand products for renewable energy applications
Thermal solar systems place high demands on the properties of heat transfer fluids. Both during cold winter nights and under the hot midday sun — you need your solar system to work reliably, year in and year out. Our products make sure your solar thermal fluid remains liquid and pumpable all the way down to –30°C while resisting breakdown up to 200°C. Since there is always a possibility of leakage causing contamination of the hot water supply, solar thermal fluids must not present a health risk. That’s why they are formulated with non-toxic propylene glycol.
Heat transfer fluids for geothermal systems have it easier in comparison. Here, the main objective is to ensure that heat is transferred from the earth to the heat pump even when temperatures are below freezing, all the while protecting the system’s components against corrosion. For drinking water protection zones and areas with special statutory requirements, we supply TYFO-SPEZIAL, a glycol-free heat transfer fluid which is non-toxic and does not causes oxygen depletion in the event a leak causes contamination.