Solar steam


Picture ©Absolicon

Reduce the energy dependence and carbon footprint of the EPFL campus by using solar energy for sterilization and conditioning of laboratory animal facilities.

Sterilization and conditioning (heating and humidification) of laboratory animal facilities are a major contributor to EPFL’s footprint. To cover the demand of the animal facilities of the School of Life Sciences, a boiler is burning 500’000 m3 of gas annually to produce steam, generating 1’400 tons of CO2 per year.

Supplying 20% of the current steam demand from solar collectors, could save 100’000 m3 of gas per year and would reduce the carbon footprint of the campus by nearly 300 tons of CO2.

The project proposes the integration of solar steam with the existing gas-fired boiler system as a more sustainable alternative. Solar steam will be produced by concentrating solar collectors, the key component of which – the receiver – is based on an EPFL-developed and patented selective absorber coating.

Research will focus on components (solar receiver), and on development of low cost, non-tracking compound parabolic concentrators (CPC collectors), to set up demonstrators of key prototype systems (set-up and testing of autoclave + parabolic trough collector) for solar sterilization on campus. The solutions developed should be scalable and applicable beyond EPFL’s campus.

The project is highly relevant in the context of the emerging market of solar heat for industrial processes (SHIP) in Switzerland and Europe, such as pasteurization in the food and beverage sector, sterilization in the pharma and medical sector or bleaching in the paper/textile industry.

Project Team