Collective solar thermal

Transferring heat from solar collectors is an ideal way of using the sun’s energy. The sun’s heat is absorbed on a flat surface and then transferred to a fluid. The fluid can be used for heating domestic tap water and for radiator heating. In addition, it can be used for large-scale operations, like district heating, heating of process fluid in industries, or solar thermal power plants.

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Choose the right solar thermal partner

  • With a century of experience in heat transfer and energy efficiency, Alfa Laval has the products to ensure your system is as efficient as possible.
  • The safe and reliable sealing of the gasketed plate heat exchanger means there is no risk of contamination of potable water in tap water heating.
  • With an Alfa Laval heat exchanger, you maximize uptime with a reduced risk of fouling due to scaling.
  • Our heat exchangers are AHRI third-party performance certified, so you can rest easily that the thermal performance is as good as we say it is.
  • Alfa Laval’s global service network means we have the outreach and influence to ensure the continuous functionality of your equipment.

Trend in the solar thermal industry

The heating sector is currently dominated by fossil fuels for energy, with less than 20% of the global heating demand being met by renewable sources. This means there is huge potential for the growth of solar thermal energy as a source of heat.

The interest in solar thermal heating has increased steadily over the past decade, and so has the cumulated solar thermal capacity. With this increasing interest, large-scale solar heating systems are becoming more popular, with district heating being the largest sub-sector. At the end of 2022, 325 large-scale solar district heating systems were in operation, with an installed capacity of 1,795 MWth.

The main challenges associated with solar thermal heating are fouling and the build-up of sediment. With Alfa Laval’s heat exchangers, this risk is substantially reduced with durable materials and turbulent flow. Our global service network can also ensure that your equipment runs optimally with minimum downtime.   

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A reliable partner, Alfa Laval shares our commitment to the global transition to renewable energy and has delivered superior heat transfer technology and expertise at our Carwarp power plant.

Richard Payne, CEO, RayGen

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Solar thermal solutions from Alfa Laval

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Tap water heating

In a solar water heating system, the main source of heat generation is solar panels that act as solar collectors. Since the amount of solar energy will vary throughout the day and year, a conventional boiler is often used as a backup. The collectors use the sun’s rays to heat a transfer fluid, which is usually a mixture of glycol and water. Adding glycol to the transfer fluid prevents it from freezing during the winter season. The transfer fluid flows in a closed-loop circuit that is separated from the water supply by a gasketed plate heat exchanger. After heating the tap water, the transfer fluid will circulate back to the solar collectors. With a gasketed plate heat exchanger from Alfa Laval, you ensure maximum heat efficiency and can rest easy that there is no risk of potable water contamination.

Space heating

Solar collectors in the form of solar panels can also be used for space heating. The collectors will heat a transfer fluid using the sun’s rays. The heat from the transfer fluid will then be transferred to the heating fluid in the secondary circuit using a gasketed plate heat exchanger. The hot fluid can be used to provide space heating through heated flooring, radiators, or forced hot air systems. Regardless of which, with an Alfa Laval heat exchanger you recover the maximum amount of heat, saving both energy and money in the process.

Large-scale solar thermal applications

Solar thermal power plants use the sun's energy to heat a transfer fluid to a high temperature. In order to extract maximum heat, they use mirrors to reflect and concentrate the solar radiation. This heat then needs to be transferred to water to produce superheated steam. The most efficient way to achieve this is by using a gasketed plate heat exchanger. The superheated steam is then used to turn turbines, converting mechanical energy into electricity.



Gasketed plate-and-frame heat exchangers

  • Flexible solutions that can be adapted to the duty ensuring highest thermal efficiency
  • Compact designs save space and are easy to service and maintain
  • Solutions to reduce fouling, stress and corrosion for maximum uptime

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Semi-welded plate heat exchangers

  • Highly efficient, reliable technology for applications that can cause pressure or temperature fatigue
  • Guaranteed long sealing lifetime thanks to unique Alfa Laval RefTight™ sealing system
  • A dependable solution for preventing cross-contamination between media

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Brazed plate heat exchangers

  • Lightweight copper-brazed construction with compact footprint
  • Greater thermal efficiency than comparable shell-and-tubes
  • Flexible options to fit a variety of applications with all different types of media/fluids
  • Ideal for natural and low-GWP refrigerants

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Fusion bonded AlfaNova heat exchangers

  • True 100% stainless steel construction
  • Strong corrosion resistance with aggressive media
  • Prevents metal contamination in drinking water and other hygienic applications
  • High thermal efficiency and compact footprint

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Consultant? System integrator?

Are you a consultant? Look here! With expertise from decades of experience in heat exchange, Alfa Laval offers knowledgeable resources for today’s heating and cooling challenges. Discover answers to complex questions on everything from energy efficiency to natural refrigerants, along with helpful tools that make it simpler to find the right technology for your application.

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AHRI-performance-certified heat exchangers for confident thermal performance

Certification from the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) is the only global third-party verification of thermal performance, giving you independent assurance that your plate heat exchanger will perform in accordance with the manufacturer’s published ratings. Alfa Laval offers AHRI-certified gasketed plate heat exchangers, brazed plate heat exchangers, and fusion-bonded plate heat exchangers.


Making efficiency last for decades

A poorly functioning heat exchanger may affect safety, product quality and energy costs. Failure may lead to costly downtime and major losses in production. By regular and proactive maintenance of your gasketed plate heat exchanger performance is preserved and operations kept trouble-free and predictable.

We have the expertise to help you whether you experience a problem today, wish to prevent future issues or want to solve the problem yourself with our online troubleshooter.

See our total service solutions

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Digitalization for energy efficiency

Smart cities and digital intelligence could help cities to make progress toward meeting 70 percent of their Sustainable Development Goals. Digital services can already have a significant impact on heating and cooling systems in cities, making them more sustainable.

Enabling remote monitoring and performing dedicated analytics allow more precise and efficient operation, more informed decision-making, and targeted interventions. The development of more sophisticated and efficient heating and cooling systems is only possible through this digital transformation, which can provide reliable and affordable heating and cooling services to urban areas while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

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HVAC and the Sustainable cities

Consuming more than two-thirds of the world’s energy, our cities play a crucial role in tackling the climate crisis. A considerable part of cities’ energy consumption is for heating and cooling, which means improving energy efficiency is paramount. Alfa Laval has almost a century of experience in heat transfer and recovery and aims to become carbon neutral by 2030. Let us be your partner in the transformation to a sustainable tomorrow.

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