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A ROOF WHICH PRODUCES SOLAR ENERGY: INNOVATION FROM KME
A roof which can use solar radiation to produce energy: this is the ingenious and innovative “Tecu solar system” technology, designed and made by Kme of Florence. The company is Italy’s largest manufacturer of semi-finished copper and copper alloy products (with the exception of copper wires) and has long-established connections with the industrial base of many European nations. Indeed, the Kme Group boasts 13 manufacturing sites, strategically positioned in the 5 European countries with the largest markets for semi-finished copper goods; as well as a factory in China. The Group also has a presence in all 5 continents, with an extensive network of commercial companies, able to fulfill the requirements of its clients in every corner of the world.
In 2008, the Group decided to extend its field of activity to include finished products, with the idea of producing and distributing technologically advanced solutions, especially on the environmental front. This change of direction by Kme saw the birth of the “Tecu solar system”: a copper covering for roofs with an integrated radiation capturing system, which can produce hot water either for household use or to run a central heating system with radiators.
The system has certain features which facilitate its use in the building sector. Copper is highly workable, has a proverbially long life, and can be easily recycled. The “Tecu solar system” also boasts the advantage of being perfectly integrated with the covering sheath, thereby eliminating the need for external systems and providing a seamless alternative. The result is visually pleasing, and combines the needs for energy saving and bio-compatibility with long-term sustainability in the architectural and environmental contexts. The system is provided in the form of modular elements, which can either be made to order, in lengths up to 5 metres, or purchased in two standard versions (2 or 3 metres long). There is a choice of two finishes (“Oxid” and “Patina”), which enhance the aesthetic appearance of the copper.
The covering, made in copper 0.6 millimetres thick, is equipped with a system of copper tubes running under the surface which exploit a special convector fluid to capture the heat of the sun. The functioning of the system relies on a primary closed circuit with forced circulation to provide hot water, which is then distributed via a secondary circuit. The convector fluid heats up in contact with the copper surfaces, and is conveyed around the coil of the heat exchanger located inside the storage tank by means of the primary circuit pump, activated only when there is sufficient solar radiation. As it travels around the coil, situated in the lower part of the heat exchanger, the convector fluid conveys its heat to the household water, contained in the storage tank. This is then delivered to the user by means of the secondary circuit pump. After the heat exchange process is completed, the convector fluid, now cool, returns to the copper pipes to heat up again and repeat the cycle.