Heat Transfer Fluid

Heat transfer fluid passes through absorber and transfers energy to thermal utilization system (accumulator or exchanger).

Most used types are:

* Natural water: can be used in open circuit, when sanitary water passes directly through collectors, or in closed circuit (independent consumption circuit).

In first case, circuit can only be constituted by materials allowed for drinking water supply. In some countries this system is not allowed.

It will be necessary to consider water characteristics, especially its hardness (calcium and magnesium amount), which when heated produces a hard crust or tartar.

This crust accelerates corrosion, restricts flow and reduces heat transfer. The values start to be problematic from 60 mg / l. Very soft waters can also cause problems due to their corrosivity.

* Water with antifreeze: to avoid drawbacks of freezing and boiling of heat transfer fluid, use of antifreezes called “glycols” is the most widespread.

Mixed with water in certain proportions prevent freezing to a limit of temperatures below 0 ° C depending on their concentration.

On the other hand the boiling point rises making heat transfer is protected against too high temperatures.

Choice of concentration will depend on historical temperatures of the area where installation is located and on characteristics provided by manufacturer.

Most commonly used glycols are ethylene glycol and propylene glicol.

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Fundamental characteristics of antifreeze:

• They are toxic: their mixing with drinking water must be prevented by making secondary circuit pressure greater than that of primary, for prevention exchanger possible breakage.

• They are very viscous: factor to take into account when choosing electric pump that is usually more powerful.

• Dilates more than water when heated: as a safety standard, when we use antifreeze in proportions of up to 30%, when sizing the expansion vessel, we will apply a coefficient of 1.1 and 1.2 if proportion is greater.

• It is unstable at more than 120ºC: it loses its properties so it stops avoiding freezing. There are some that withstand higher temperatures, but they are expensive.

• The boiling temperature is higher than that of water alone, but not too much.

• Specific heat is lower than that of water alone, so it must be taken into account in the flow calculation, conditioning pipe and pump dimensioning.

To calculate antifreeze amount that must be added to an installation, you must first consult the table of historical temperatures which is the minimum temperature recorded in that city or location.

Once it is known, goes to glycols graph supplied by manufacturer and value is transferred to indicate what percentage is.

* Organics fluids: there are two types, synthetic and petroleum derivatives.
Precautions mentioned in case of antifreeze regarding toxicity, viscosity and dilation are applicable to organic fluids. Additional risk of fire should be mentioned, but also that they are chemically stable at elevated temperatures.

* Silicone oils: they are stable and of good quality products. They have the advantages that they are not toxic and that they are not flammable, but current high prices mean they are not widely used.

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