Researchers have developed an eco-friendly inflatable solar panel called SolarStore for domestic use, which would help to save nearly 0.2 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year.
According to a report in ENN (Environmental News Network), the SolarStore harnesses the sun's natural energy to warm domestic water and can heat up to three full tanks of water per day at temperatures close to 80 Degree Celsius.
SolarStore works by allowing sunlight to pass through a clear outer layer to a black inner layer which holds the water. By a process of heat transfer, the water is then heated up.
The surrounding air between the clear and black layers then acts as insulation to help keep the heat in.
The most noteworthy feature of the device is its simplicity.
When deflated, SolarStore is small enough to fit into a rucksack, yet it inflates to nearly 2m2 for maximum solar absorption.
Although the SolarStore is inflatable, the structure of the system is strong and robust and it is anchored down by the weight of 30 litres of water. It is manufactured from a heavy-duty polymer that is designed to protect against dirt and rain.
For consumers, the SolarStore could provide a cheap source of domestic hot water; with an initial cost of under 100 pounds per product.
With trial data showing that the system will pay for itself in only 6 months, it compares extremely favourably to conventional domestic solar hot water systems, which cost in the region of 2000-3000 pounds and have payback times of around 10-20 years.
It is anticipated that the product will also be extremely beneficial in developing countries, where a reliable electricity supply can be a problem.
Other applications for the SolarStore include hot water for camping and caravanning holidays or for hot water in remote locations.