A review of polymer materials for solar water heating systems

Raghu Raman, Susan Mantell, Jane Davidson, Chunhui Wu, Gary Jorgensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


This paper summarizes current research aimed at using polymer materials for glazing and heat exchanger components in solar water heating systems. Functional requirements, relevant polymer properties and an approach for selecting polymers are described for each of these components. Glazing must have high transmittance across the solar spectrum and withstand long term exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. Candidate glazing materials were tested outdoors for one year in Golden, Phoenix and Miami, as well as exposed for over 300 days in an accelerated testing facility at a concentration ratio of two at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Measurements of hemispherical transmittance indicate that a 3.35 mm polycarbonate sheet with a thin film acrylic UV screen provides good transmittance without excessive degradation. The primary challenge to designing a polymer heat exchanger is selecting a polymer that is compatible with potable water and capable of withstanding the high pressure and temperature requirements of domestic hot water systems. Polymers certified for hot water applications by the National Sanitation Foundation or currently used in heat exchangers and exhibit good high temperature characteristics were compared on the basis of a merit value (thermal conductance per unit area per dollar) and manufacturer’s recommendations. High temperature nylon (HTN), polypropylene (PP) and cross linked polypropylene (PEX) are recommended for tube components. For structural components (i.e. headers), glass reinforced high temperature nylon (HTN), polyphthalamide (PPA), polyphenylene sulphide (PPS) and polypropylene (PP) are recommended.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)92-100
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Solar Energy Engineering, Transactions of the ASME
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2000


Dive into the research topics of 'A review of polymer materials for solar water heating systems'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this