Title:
Flexible solar power collector
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A flexible solar power collector includes a flexible transparent outer tube, a flexible black inner tube inserted through the flexible transparent outer tube for guiding water to a water heater, sealing devices that seal the two ends of the flexible transparent outer tube to define a greenhouse within the flexible transparent outer tube around the flexible black inner tube, a flexible photoelectric converter fastened to the bottom side of the flexible transparent outer tube to convert solar energy into electric energy, and a flexible electrothermal converter connected to the flexible photoelectric converter to transform electric energy into thermal energy.



Inventors:
Chen, Chao Hung (Taichung City, TW)
Application Number:
11/802099
Publication Date:
11/20/2008
Filing Date:
05/18/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F24J2/36
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SAVANI, AVINASH A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
TROXELL LAW OFFICE PLLC (FALLS CHURCH, VA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A flexible solar power collector comprising: a flexible transparent outer tube; a flexible black inner tube inserted through said flexible transparent outer tube, said flexible black inner tube having a water inlet and a water outlet, and sealing means secured to said flexible transparent outer tube around said flexible black inner tube to seal said flexible transparent outer tube and to define a greenhouse within said flexible transparent outer tube around said flexible black inner tube.

2. The flexible solar power collector as claimed in claim 1, wherein said sealing means is silicon rubber.

3. The flexible solar power collector as claimed in claim 1, wherein said sealing means is comprised of two gasket rings respectively fixed to the two distal ends of said flexible transparent outer tube around said flexible black inner tube.

4. The flexible solar power collector as claimed in claim 1, wherein said sealing means is comprised of a plurality of sealing devices secured to said flexible transparent outer tube around said flexible black inner tube and spaced from one another along the length of said flexible transparent outer tube to divide said greenhouse into multiple blocks.

5. The flexible solar power collector as claimed in claim 1, wherein said sealing means is formed of a thermoexpansion material.

6. The flexible solar power collector as claimed in claim 1, wherein said sealing means seals the two distal ends of said flexible transparent outer tube.

7. The flexible solar power collector as claimed in claim 1, further comprising a flexible photoelectric converter adapted to convert solar energy into electric energy, and a flexible electrothermal converter electrically connected to said flexible photoelectric converter and adapted to convert electric energy into heat energy.

8. The flexible solar power collector as claimed in claim 7, wherein said flexible photoelectric converter is secured to a bottom side of said flexible transparent outer tube and extending in a horizontal direction.

9. The flexible solar power collector as claimed in claim 7, wherein said flexible electrothermal converter is spirally arranged around said flexible black inner tube an extending in a horizontal direction.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a solar power collector and more particularly, to a flexible solar power collector, which comprises a greenhouse made up of a black inner tube, a transparent outer tube and sealing devices, and flexibly curved to fit the contour of the installation location on a building.

A regular solar water heater 10, as shown in FIG. 1, generally comprises a water tank 11, a glass panel 12, and a plurality of heat-exchange tubes 13. The water tank 11 is a metal container, having a heat insulating bottom 111, a support 112 disposed at one side for supporting the water tank 11 in a tilted position, a water intake pipe 113 connected to one side thereof, and a water outlet pipe 114 extending from the other side thereof. The glass panel 12 is attached to the top of the water tank 11. The heat-exchange tubes 13 are metal tubes mounted inside the water tank 11. The water tank 11, the glass panel 12 and the heat-exchange tubes 13 form a hard greenhouse 14.

The aforesaid prior art design has numerous drawbacks as outlined hereinafter. (1) The solar water heater 10 is large in size, taking up much installation space. This drawback limits the application of the solar water heater 10. Therefore, the solar water heater 10 of this design can only be installed on the roof of a building where it is directly heated by the sunlight. (2) The solar water heater 10 produces the effect of a greenhouse 14 to lower the temperature of the roof of the building. However, due to limitations to the design and cost, the installed solar water heater 10 can not cover all the surfaces around the building, and the temperature inside the building will unavoidably rise continuously. Therefore, the use of the solar water heater 10 does not offer the additional value of helping lower the temperature around the building. (3) Using the heat-exchange tubes 13 can only generate a limited amount of heat energy, i.e., the solar water heater 10 can not convert solar energy into heat efficiently within a limited time.

Therefore, it is desirable to provide a solar photoelectric concentrator that eliminates the aforesaid drawbacks.

SUMMARY OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

The present invention has been accomplished under the circumstances in view. It is one object of the present invention to provide a flexible solar power collector, which comprises a greenhouse made up of a black inner tube, a transparent outer tube and sealing devices, so that it is flexibly curved to fit the contour of the building for free installation.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a flexible solar power collector, which is comprised of a flexible solar power collector tube made up of a black inner tube, a transparent outer tube and sealing devices that are easy and inexpensive to manufacture.

It is still another object of the present invention to provide a flexible solar power collector, which is comprised of a flexible solar power collector tube made up of a black inner tube, a transparent outer tube and sealing devices and, which collects solar energy and stores the collected solar energy efficiently, so as to lower the surrounding temperature of the building on which it is installed.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a flexible solar power collector, which comprises a flexible solar power collector tube made up of a black inner tube, a transparent outer tube, and sealing devices, a flexible photoelectric converter for converting solar energy into electric energy, and a flexible electrothermal converter for transforming electric energy into thermal energy for heating water to a desired temperature level efficiently to reduce the heating time and energy consumption.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a solar power collector according to the prior art.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a sectional view of the present invention, showing the sealing device made of silicon rubber.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the present invention, showing the sealing device formed of a gasket ring.

FIG. 5 is a sectional view of the present invention, showing the sealing device formed of a gasket ring.

FIG. 6 shows one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 7 shows another embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 8 is a sectional view of the present invention, showing the sealing device made of a thermoexpansion material.

FIG. 9 is a sectional view of an alternative form of the present invention.

FIG. 10 is a sectional view of another alternative form of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring to FIGS. 2 and 3, a solar power collector tube 20 comprised of an inner tube 21 and an outer tube 22 is shown. The inner tube 21 is of a flexible black tube. The outer tube 22 is of a flexible transparent tube. The outer diameter of the inner tube 21 is smaller than the inner diameter of the outer tube 22 so that the inner tube 21 is insertable into the outer tube 22. The inner tube 21 has one end terminating in a water inlet 211 and the other end terminating in a water outlet 212. After insertion of the inner tube 21 through the outer tube 22, the two distal ends of the outer tube 22 are respectively sealed with a sealing device 23. Thus, the inner tube 21, the outer tube 22 and the sealing device 23 constitute a greenhouse 24. The sealing device 23 can be a silicon rubber 231 (see FIG. 3) or a gasket ring 232 (see FIGS. 4 and 5). Further, a flexible photoelectric converter 25 is secured to the bottom side of the outer tube 22 and extending in a horizontal direction. A flexible electrothermal converter 26 extends spirally around the inner tube 21 inside the greenhouse 24 in a horizontal direction. The flexible photoelectric converter 25 and the flexible electrothermal converter 26 are connected to each other, forming an energy conversion loop.

In use, the running water enters the water inlet 211 into the inner tube 21. When sunlight is cast on the outer tube 22 and the inner tube 21, the black color of the inner tube 21 with good heat absorbing characteristic absorbs the solar energy from sunlight efficiently, enabling the absorbed solar energy to be accumulated in the greenhouse 24 to heat the water flowing through the inner tube 21. At the same time, the flexible photoelectric converter 25 transforms the solar energy of sunlight into electric energy, which is transmitted to the flexible electrothermal converter 26 and converted by the flexible electrothermal converter into thermal energy to heat the water again. Thus, the water heater to which the water outlet 212 of the inner tube 21 is connected can heat water to a desired temperature level efficiently, i.e., the water heater saves much energy consumption when heating up water to a desired temperature level. Further, because the solar power collector tube 20 is flexible, it can be installed at any place of a building to that the sunlight is directly shed, and freely curved to fit the contour of the building (see FIGS. 6 and 7). Because the solar power collector tube 20 collects solar energy and stores collected solar energy, it lowers the surrounding temperature of a building, thereby reducing the burden of the air conditioning system of the building.

FIG. 8 shows an alternative form of the present invention. According to this embodiment, the greenhouse 24 is an active greenhouse, i.e., the sealing device 23 at each end of the outer tube 22 is made of a thermoexpansion material 233 having open spaces. When the temperature inside the greenhouse 24 is lower than the outside temperature, the open spaces in the thermoexpansion material 233 are opened up for allowing external hot air to enter the greenhouse 24. On the contrary, when the inside temperature of the greenhouse 24 is higher than the outside temperature, the thermoexpansion material 233 shut off the open spaces to prohibit leakage of internal thermal energy.

FIG. 9 shows another alternative form of the present invention. According to this embodiment, multiple sealing devices 23 are secured to the outer tube 22 and spaced from one another along the length of the outer tube 22 to divide the greenhouse 24 into multiple blocks. Further, the sealing devices 23 can be respectively made of a gasket ring 232 or thermoexpansion material 233 (see FIG. 10). Therefore, when one block of the greenhouse 24 is broken, the other blocks of the greenhouse 24 still function well without influence.

A prototype of flexible solar power collector has been constructed with the features of FIGS. 2˜10. The flexible solar power collector functions smoothly to provide all of the features disclosed earlier.

Although particular embodiments of the invention have been described in details for purposes of illustration, various modifications and enhancements may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, the invention is not to be limited except as by the appended claims.