Engineering research team are finalists for Dragon-STAR Innovation Award

Solar panels

An engineering team led by the University of Hull has been selected as a finalist for a prestigious Chinese-European Innovation Award.

This unique award, the Dragon-STAR Innovation Award, is for distinguished scientific and technological collaboration between the EU and China.

The team, selected as one of three finalists, have been shortlisted for their development of a cost-effective and energy-efficient technology that has great global market potential in solar thermal and power systems.

The team’s development of a novel loop heat pipe (LHP) could also be widely used in heat exchangers, heat recovery systems, air conditioning and ventilation systems, cooling of electronics and lighting, as well as in the aerospace industry.

The newly developed LHP controls the liquid and vapour flows to give significant advantages over conventional LHPs and straight heat pipes (HPs). This increases the HP’s heat transport capacity by around 90% and 60% over the conventional straight HPs and LHPs.

Professor Xudong Zhao, coordinator of the innovation team, commented: ‘This new LHP can be used with solar thermal technology – solar panels which collect the sun’s energy to heat water – as well as photovoltaic thermal systems, which are a hybrid panel combining photovoltaic, which generates electricity, with solar thermal collectors, which produces heat.’

‘Using the new LHP in this way has major advantages over existing technologies. For example, the solar efficiency of the new LHP based solar thermal collecting systems is 18% higher than that for conventional solar thermal collecting systems.’

The three teams will present their innovations during the China-EU Science and Technology Corporation Forum in Brussels in April 2015, in order to compete for the championship.

The innovation has been developed by Professor Xudong Zhao (coordinator) and Dr Xingxing Zhang of the University of Hull. The team involves University of Nottingham, De Montfort University, Shanghai Pacific Energy Centre, University of Science and Technology of China, Shanghai Solar Energy Research Centre (SSERC), as well as Nantong Xingyun Energy Co. Ltd.

The innovation was based on an EU funded international research exchange programme titled ‘R&D in Sustainable Building Energy Systems and Retrofitting (FP7-PEOPLE-2010-IRSES-269205 – R-D-SBES-R)’.

It also received support from the 2010 Shanghai Key Scientific and Technological Programme, titled ‘Integration of Low-carbon Energy Technologies into Hongqiao Business District (10SZ1200308)’.

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