Solar Thermal Energy: Testing Efficient Means of Collection

Colarossi-Pulis began their investigation with a simple goal: to effectively and easily construct and test several solar thermal energy collection systems in an attempt to determine the most efficient collection system. By experimenting with different circulatory systems (a copper-fin system vs. an automotive-style radiator), different fluids being circulated (water vs. radiator fluid), and different environments (located in a "Solar Box" vs. not located in the "Solar Box"), Colarossi and Pulis set out to determine the optimal conditions under which to collect solar thermal energy.

Results from the experiment varied greatly depending on the variables used in each particular trial. The least effective system (radiator fluid circulated through the copper fin system outside of the solar box) had an efficiency rating (change in temp/ time to plateau) of only 0.10. The most effective system, however, was the water circulating through the radiator in the solar box. This trial resulted in an efficiency rating of 1.08. Thus, if one desired to collect the maximum amount of solar thermal energy in a small, simple system, it would be desirable to circulate water through a radiator enclosed in a "Solar Box".

The results of the study into the solar thermal energy collection properties of our systems indicate that there are indeed better ways of collecting and producing energy than the conventional methods used today. Further studies should investigate other variables of solar thermal energy collection and even other methods of harnessing our world's natural, renewable sources of energy.

Research Done By:

Steven Colarossi

Dominick Pulis