Solar thermal energy cannot be efficiently converted into electrical energy but can have very important uses in both the domestic and the industrial sectors.
In 2003 Scintec srl, in collaboration with Koiné, patented a project which aimed at using solar ponds for plants of large dimension and low cost. Later, in 2007, we filed the SHELL patent that aims to reduce the production costs of hot water at temperatures between 60 and 80 °C. The principle is illustrated schematically in the figures below
The goal is to have low cost heat both for small plants with economic collectors and large plants for industrial purposes
One of the main field of application of these collectors is, without doubt, desalination.
Desalination plants are widely used throughout the Mediterranean area and in the Persian Gulf to produce drinking water or for agricultural purposes. There are hundreds of plants in operation for a total flow of 18 million m3 of water per day (200 m3 per second) divided roughly in half between reverse osmosis plants and evaporation plants. Desalination techniques are tested and thus far their only problem is a very high energy cost.
In our scheme a large collector is used in order to produce heat at low cost which can then be utilized for the distillation of sea water using MED systems (Multi Effect Distillator), operating at temperatures around 80° C. In this way we get water without resorting to fossil fuels, but using the sun as an energy source. The costs of water are then determined solely by the building of the plant and the managing costs.