Low-grade solar thermal energy and industrial waste are two readily available and cheap energy sources which can help with modern environmental concerns and energy demand. This is attributed to the enormous potential of solar thermal energy and industrial waste heat. For instance, solar energy potential is theoretically 2,850 times the world’s energy demand. Similarly, 63% of global energy consumption waste was in form of heat, where by 2040 industry sector would contribute to more than 50% of global energy consumption. Therefore, significant attention has been devoted to develop the technology to harness this large pool of thermal energy. Most of the easy-to-access energy is in form of low-grade heat.
More specifically, the low/non-concentrating solar collectors provide one of the most economical and sustainable way of collecting solar energy in terms of heat in comparison to solar photovoltaic and concentrating solar collectors. Solar thermal heat collected using low/non-concentrating solar collector is low-grade heat (< 200℃). Similarly, 80% of industrial waste heat lies in the temperature span of 25-150℃ which is also low- grade heat. Despite the increasing awareness and technological development, solar energy and industrial waste heat have very small contributions in global energy consumption. This is mainly due to lower heat recovery, larger system size, cost, and lack of use of the products from existing low-grade heat energy systems as hot air and water streams. In this regard, we developed a novel concept of thermal fan (TF) capable of producing useful high pressures in excess of 16 bars while operating within 200℃ and using heat from low-grade thermal sources such as conventional solar and heat recovery systems. TF overcomes aforementioned limitations of existing systems running on low-grade heat while ensuring excellent heat transfer rate, compact size, simple design, and useful output which can make it economically viable.