An evacuated enclosure design for solar thermal energy applications

Flat-plate solar thermal collector technology when coupled with vacuum enclosure technology has potential to supply clean energy efficiently for use in applications including residential water and space heating. This paper focuses on the design of vacuum enclosures for flat-plate solar collectors with specific reference to vacuum enclosures designed for thin micro-channel solar absorber plates (thickness < 10mm). The expectations, requirements and applications of these solar collectors are discussed along with a description of an enclosure concept under consideration. Potential seal materials are identified and their limitations discussed. Finite element modelling results are presented and conclusions made regarding design parameter selection.