Ulster Solar Heating Design Improves Efficiency

A low-cost solar water-heating system that started its days at the University of Ulster is to be showcased in London during the Olympics.

SolaCatcher, a passive solar water heater designed for pre-heating domestic hot water, has won a place in the Make it in Great Britain Challenge, and will be showcased in London's Science Museum during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

SolaCatcher's technology was designed by researchers at the University of Ulster's Centre for Sustainable Technologies (CST).

Tim Brundle, Director of Innovation at Ulster said: "SolaCatcher is a great example of innovation which could change the way we live for the better."

It could improve on the cost-effectiveness of existing solar heating systems.

On average, existing systems cost around £4,000 to install and can provide about 60% of a household's hot water.

The current SolaCatcher unit – which still has room for product improvements - can provide about 20% of domestic hot water needs at less than 15 per cent of the cost of conventional systems.

The patent pending vacuum design acts like a thermos flask, enabling the collection of solar energy during the day and providing insulation to keep the water warm for a sustained period of time.

SolaCatcher is the brainchild of Dr Mervyn Smyth, a Reader at Ulster's School of the Built Environment. Dr Smyth and colleague Dominic McLarnon, Research Fellow at the Centre for Sustainable Technologies, are working on a commercial prototype of the system.

To find out more about SolaCatcher visit www.solacatcher.com and for further information about the Challenge visit makeitingreatbritain.bis.gov.uk


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