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solar steam space heating

goes to The Lovely Pam, wife of my partner Gordon.

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  • solar steam space heating

    Given your unique knowledge and forum on steam heating I am wondering if you have heard of any applications to space heating of the many advances in solar concentrator technology, (mainly "solar trough" linear parabolic mirrors), that heat energy-carrying fluids developed mainly in the US that could become the new renaissance in steam space heating?
    Specifically, in Spain, they are developing the only system that actually produces the steam directly in the concentrator.
  • Brad White_50
    Brad White_50 Member Posts: 6
    Heard of that

    but more as a curiosity. What I read about was an adaptation of a parabolic cooking stove. I did not think it was practical in application -yet. But one has to start somewhere and I am glad it has been explored.

    Our problem on this side of the Atlantic is that, while we use steam, we seem to lack reliable sun! Hate when that happens.

    Where we do have abundant sun, we tend not to need heat. But any way to make heat from the sun, change of state included such that no pump is needed, is a good thing.

    Do you have an update? Knowledge of a larger model with practical application?
  • Steamhead (in transit)
    Steamhead (in transit) Member Posts: 6,688
    It's been done, Brad

    I have some articles on it somewhere, when I find them I'll scan and post them. Trouble is finding the time to do it these days.....


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  • Brad White_9
    Brad White_9 Member Posts: 2,440
    Is that really you, Steamhead?

    All Steamed Up- I love it.

    Figured you would know....


  • ALH_4
    ALH_4 Member Posts: 1,790

    How do you store steam all day for use at night? Usually when you have sunlight available, the structure also has passive solar gain. This is one reason I think hot water is the way to go when using solar.

  • You and I think alike Andrew...

    Although it is COOL to watch the sun generate steam, efficient use of this steam and long term storage are major issues.

    Even if you CAN produce steam, it makes more sense from short term storage principles to go with hot, or warm water.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 17,190

    There are two problems with using solar for either domestic hot water or for high temperature space heating. First, the collector to atmosphere temperature difference is high, and it is very difficult to insulate effectively; the efficiencies are startling low. Second, the problem of storage of a high temperature working fluid is similar: you have to insulate like mad, and you have to have a lot of it to carry you through (and you can't store steam, my friend, for any length of time at all, insulated or not).

    This is not to say that solar isn't a good option for space heating, even here in New England. My father-in-law was one of the noted pioneers in the field, and has a number of 100 percent solar heated houses in Massachusetts and New Hampshire to his credit. Quite livable, too -- no fancy stuff. But he never did use solar for domestic hot water, except in one or two experiments. All the stuff that actually worked used air as the working fluid, generally at around 100 F, and water as the heat store, at a maximum temp of 120 F to 130 F.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Steamhead (in transit)
    Steamhead (in transit) Member Posts: 6,688
    It would have to be done

    as part of a district steam system. The investment makes more sense if it can supply all or part of a district. Also, it's easier to orient a large collector that is not restricted by being mounted on a building.

    Some district systems (like the one in Baltimore) burn garbage in their boilers. This would be a good backup for nighttime operation and cloudy days. In summer the steam demand is less, so solar could conceivably provide all or most of this demand on a sunny day.

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