Solar energy - Durability

SP has extensive experience in durability testing and lifetime assessment of polymeric and metallic materials in solar energy converters.
International Energy Agency

For about 15 years, and within the framework of the International Energy Agency (IEA), we have participated in the development of durability tests for a wide range of components and materials in solar energy converters, such as converter surfaces, reflectors, and glazing materials. In addition to the IEA tests, we offer testing of almost any other type of material present in solar energy systems.

Advanced equipment

We have a large and comprehensive collection of instrumentation for artificial aging, in indoor as well as outdoor environments (aging ovens, climate chambers, weather-o-meters). We have also highly advanced equipment for evaluation of any changes that occur as a result of the aging, such as TOF-SIMS, spectroscopy (FTIR, UV-VIS-NIR), mechanical testing, and electron microscopy.

Damage assessment

Furthermore, we perform damage assessment of most types of materials, and are happy to assist in selecting appropriate materials for specific applications. Today, when more and more solar energy converters are made entirely out of plastics, our expertise in polymeric materials makes us uniquely suited partners in evaluating and choosing the best solar energy system.

Accumulator tank

One specific example of our activities in this field is the testing of accumulator tanks, in which water is heated and stored in solar energy systems. Since the components of the tank are in constant contact with water, corrosion is likely to occur, and the evaluation is in fact a corrosion risk assessment. High demands have to be put on the accumulator tank in terms of material, material combinations, and water quality to optimise the lifetime of the tank. The parameters determining the corrosive potential of the water are temperature, oxygen concentration, pH, and hardness. Our evaluations of accumulator tanks and solar water heaters are theoretical and, in most cases, based solely on the manufacturer’s documentation, i.e. descriptions of the installation and all included components. Relevant water parameters (see above) are also specified. However, when stipulated in the control agreement or otherwise necessary, a supplementary interior inspection can be performed by opening the accumulator and potentially cutting open its components. The method is also used for hot water heaters.

RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, Phone 010-516 50 00, E-mail info@ri.se

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