The use of solar energy as a renewable and clean source of power has gained momentum as society seeks alternatives to fossil fuels. Solar air heaters, in particular, offer a promising technology that can harness sunlight to heat air for various applications, including space heating, ventilation, and drying processes. However, the conventional production of solar air heaters often involves the use of new raw materials, contributing to resource depletion and waste generation. The idea of creating an eco-friendly solar air heater based on recycled materials aligns well with the principles of a circular economy, where resources are continuously reused, repurposed, and recycled. By repurposing discarded or waste materials, this approach not only diverts waste from landfills but also reduces the demand for new resources and the associated environmental impacts of their extraction and processing.

Dr. Abolfazl Hajizadeh Aghdam (Department of Mechanical Engineering, Arak University of Technology, Arak, Iran) and his team have recently published their paper titled “Design, fabrication, and performance assessment of a novel solar air heater based on recycled materials” in Future Technology Journal.

The research introduces a solar air heater (SAH) made from recyclable materials. The SAH includes an absorber plate composed of black-colored soda cans and tins designed to withstand high temperatures. Laboratory testing reveals that higher airflow and improved heat transfer between the plate and air significantly boost collector efficiency. The study also explores the effects of radiation intensity and mass flow rate on parameters like absorbed heat and thermal efficiency. Results show that increased mass flow rates and radiation intensity enhance these parameters. Tins outperform soda cans in absorbing solar radiation and promoting thermal transfer. The study identifies optimal performance at a radiation intensity of 300. (To read more, download this open-access paper).

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Radiation intensity measurement by model radiometer TES

The integration of recycled materials into the manufacturing process can contribute to lower production costs, making eco-friendly solar air heaters more accessible to a broader range of users. This cost-effectiveness could promote wider adoption of renewable energy technologies, aligning with global sustainability goals and climate targets. Challenges related to the performance and durability of recycled materials should be carefully considered during the design phase. Ensuring that the materials meet the required thermal conductivity, structural integrity, and resistance to weather conditions is crucial to guarantee the efficiency and longevity of the solar air heater. Rigorous testing and quality control measures would be necessary to validate the feasibility and reliability of the system.

The development of an “Eco-Friendly Solar Air Heater: Utilizing Recycled Materials” represents a promising endeavor that merges renewable energy utilization and sustainable practices. By repurposing discarded materials and minimizing the reliance on new resources, this innovative approach aligns with the principles of a circular economy and contributes to addressing the environmental challenges we face. As society continues to transition towards a more sustainable future, such eco-friendly technologies hold the potential to play a significant role in reducing our carbon footprint, conserving resources, and mitigating the impacts of climate change.

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Writing by Kevin Wood; Editing by Sarah White