Research Output
Whole-life design and resource reuse of a solar water heater in the UK
  Passive solar systems are often designed primarily with efficiency in mind, and research efforts are concentrated towards gaining an increase in performance. However, due to the multiple materials used, their manufacturing processes, a lifespan that is usually shorter than that of buildings that these systems are applied to and the waste generated when they have reached the end of their useful life, a more holistic approach to the design and performance of these systems should be adopted. This paper reports on the environmental impact of a unique integrated collector–storage solar water heater design, experimentally tested under Scottish weather conditions, considering circular economy and reuse potential. As such, the material flows and components used are mapped against the life-cycle stages of existing European standards while ensuring an optimal efficiency. End-of-life considerations and design for disassembly and reuse are assessed and discussed. Energy payback times of 4·5 and 4·6 years can be realised for a circular and a linear approach, respectively. Operational carbon dioxide savings, which far outstrip the embodied carbon dioxide, demonstrate carbon dioxide payback times of just 7 months, when replacing an electric system. The results show that a holistic design, which promotes circular economy principles, does not compromise efficiency and economic viability

  • Type:


  • Date:

    15 March 2019

  • Publication Status:


  • Publisher

    Thomas Telford Ltd.

  • DOI:


  • Cross Ref:


  • ISSN:


  • Library of Congress:

    TD Environmental technology. Sanitary engineering

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    621.47 Solar-energy enineering

  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Saint, R. M., Pomponi, F., Garnier, C., & Currie, J. I. (2019). Whole-life design and resource reuse of a solar water heater in the UK. Proceedings of the ICE - Engineering Sustainability, 172(3), 153-164.



recycling & reuse of materials; renewable energy; sustainability;

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