Energy-Efficient Sol-Gel Process for Production of Nanocomposite Absorber Coatings for Tubular Solar Thermal Collectors
The energy efficiency of production processes for components of solar energy systems is an important issue. Other factors which are important for the production of products such as black selective solar coatings include production speed, cycle time and homogeneity of the coating, as well as the minimization of the quantity of the needed chemical precursors. In this paper a new energy efficient production process is presented for production of optically selective coatings for solar thermal absorbers. The latter should ideally behave as a black body, absorbing a maximum of the incoming solar radiation, while minimizing energy losses by infrared radiation, acting as an infrared mirror. The used method to produce such coatings is sol-gel dip-coating. The optical and morphological properties of the Cu-Co-Mn-Si-O based triple layer have been characterized by spectrophotometry, electron microscopy and time of flight secondary electron microscopy. After optimization of the multilayer design, a solar absorptance of 0.95 and a thermal emissivity of 0.12 at 100°C have been achieved. The intermediate Cu-Co-Mn-Si-O layer was analyzed by high resolution transmission electron microscopy. The likewise obtained images show an agglomeration of crystalline grains with 10-20nm in diameter. Therefore, we can consider that the Cu-Co-Mn-Si-O phase is nanocrystalline. In order to roughly estimate the corrosion resistance of the coating in an acidic environment, a simple corrosion test in harsh conditions was designed. With respect to a commercially available durable black chrome coating, this test of corrosion resistance confirmed the durability of the novel sol-gel coating in an acidic environment. Moreover, the excellent stability at elevated temperatures in ambient air makes the coating an interesting candidate for solar applications involving concentrated solar radiation, such as the generation of solar electricity (concentrated solar power), industrial process heating and solar cooling. For that reason, prototype coatings consisting of stacks of three individual layers were deposited on 2 meter long stainless steel tubes.