Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Solar Trough Air Con/Pool Heating System

System Flow Chart: Solar Assisted Air Con via Domestic Heat Network

Hitachi Plant Technologies has combined solar heating (not Photo Voltaic -PV - electricity) with with its plentiful expertise in air conditioning, accumulated over many years, in the development of the Solar Activated Air Conditioning System.

This system is designed to drive a refrigerator directly with thermal energy (Heat) generated from the solar energy collector to obtain chilled water for air conditioning.

high-efficiency parabola trough-type solar energy collector
As the key to this system, Hitachi Plant Technologies developed its own original designed high-efficiency parabola trough-type solar energy collector* (see picture). The collector is improved through design features such as its simple and easily-handled structure, and the use of computer simulations to develop a design for control of displacement of the focal point in the presence of wind and other factors.

Hitachi Plant Technologies supplies a total system incorporating the solar energy collector, as well as presenting proposals for combinations of energy-efficient technologies for air conditioning systems, and water treatment technologies.

This system also has application beyond air conditioning systems, and future development is expected to involve wider application in a variety of heat sources.

Press Release:

  • Tokyo, January 5, 2011 --- Hitachi Plant Technologies, Ltd. (President and Representative Director: Toshiaki Higashihara) has recently developed an environmentally-friendly Solar Activated Air Conditioning System employing its own developed solar energy collector. The system reduces consumption of fossil fuels and carbon dioxide emissions remarkably.
  • Hitachi Plant Technologies is actively expanding its marketing activities, targeting at local-air conditioning in buildings or district cooling facilities for the regions of the Mediterranean, the interior of North America, Western Asia, and Australia, “Sun Shine Belts” which are sufficiently exposed to huge amount of sunlight. The company expects to break in its sales up to 5 billions yen in FY2015.


Solar (concentrated thermal) power is increasingly in focus as a source of renewable, sustainable and efficient energy, thus significantly displacing the use of fossil fuels. Hitachi Plant Technologies has considerable experience in a wide range of plants employing solar energy for power and heating. Typical electricity saving with such as system could be as high as 50% dependent of design.

Whilst other companies have used solar thermal tubes, or even thermal flat plate type collectors, the use of a "mini-parabolic Trough" is a nice twist. This allows higher operating temperatures to improve energy distribution efficiencies.

The system displaces electrical energy required to do the same 'work' in terms of air conditioning. Ideally suited to hot sunny climates where air con electricity loads can be large and cause major grid problems. So in effect the utilities ought to be promoting this too to balance their power demands in the day. Also interesting is the apparent modular design of the 'Troughs' so that multiple collectors can be used for larger installations or to balance the energy input needs of a designed air con system with the square 'meterage/footage/acreage' of collectors.

All the more strange is that these types of systems are not more common. So what have the air con installers been doing over the years? I guess they thought that air con units were just an 'electrical device'.

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