CHENNAI: At a time when energy generation and conservation are the catchwords driving modern technological innovation, three third-year engineering college students from the city have come up with a concept that takes solar energy usage one step further.
B R Vijay Prithiv, R Prabakaran and R Sukumar, who belong to the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the Sri Sairam Engineering College, have developed a solar water heater that not only uses captured energy to heat water to higher temperatures than the ones in the market do now, but also keeps water hot for a longer period of time. In fact, their modification to a stock solar water heater has made it 20 per cent more effective and secured them the first prize at the RENERGY 2014 conference conducted by the Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency last month.
Using a phase change material (PCM) called paraffin wax 6403 the team, along with their guides from the mechanical department of the SSEC, have developed a simple way to store extra heat and use it.
According to Prithiv, the paraffin wax not only acts as insulation but also stores an amount of energy when it changes from solid to liquid phase — which it does at around 60°C.
An improvement of 20.86 per cent. And what’s more, the modification makes the heater only `500-`700 more expensive than water heaters in the current market. “Not only is it a lot more effective, it is also very marketable and cost effective,” said Prithiv.