A new kind of CHP: Brunel University creates hybrid solar PV-heat pipe system


Brunel University is developing ‘Lego-style’ snap together solar panels that harness heat pipes to generate both heat and power. The £10m project, funded under the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme, hopes to drive down cost and carbon while helping to heat and power domestic and non-domestic buildings.

The modular PV panels – called PVadapt – incorporate flat head heat pipes, enabling waste heat to be turned into hot water. The pipes will also be used to cool the PV panels, making them more efficient and extending their operating life.

Professor Jouhara with a prototype roof

Under the project, the panels, which cost £260 per square meter, will be installed into eight buildings including homes, offices and shops in Spain, Greece, Austria and Portugal.

“With our system, there is no waste heat,” said technical co-ordinator, Professor Hussam Jouhara, who invented the multifunctional flat heat pipe.

“The approach focuses on low-cost, high-efficiency and modular prefabricated ‘Lego’-type construction elements for near-zero-energy buildings,” he explained.

The project involved 18 organisations from 11 countries. Professor Jouhara and the Brunel team will combine the different technologies into a prefabricated building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) energy and thermal storage system of the future. The idea is that the prefabricated panels can be ‘snapped’ into place on any rooftop.

The panels could therefore be used in social housing, public buildings and offices and and off-grid applications – and be installed very quickly.

Related stories:

Electrifying heat: too expensive or too little ambition?

Decarbonising heat: Free report

Emerging solutions: Can wind, rocks, coal mines and salt decarbonise heat?

Northern heat and powerhouse: Energy innovation puts Gateshead on the map

Eon boss: Renewable power is ‘done’, now for heat and transport

Energy minister Claire Perry: Bring on mine water heat projects

Nottingham County Council goes large on solar, eyes batteries, mulls mine water energy

Waste heat a wasted opportunity

Can Epsom salts solve heat storage conundrum?

Click here to see if you qualify for a free subscription to the print magazine, or to renew.

Follow us at @EnergystMedia. For regular bulletins, sign up for the free newsletter.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here