ACS nano, 2019, vol 13, 7, pp. 7508-7516
Heat at intermediate temperatures (120-220 °C) is in significant demand in both industrial and domestic sectors for applications such as water and space heating, steam generation, sterilization, and other industrial processes. Harnessing heat from solar energy at these temperatures, however, requires costly optical and mechanical components to concentrate the dilute solar flux and suppress heat losses. Thus, achieving high temperatures under unconcentrated sunlight remains a technological challenge as well as an opportunity for utilizing solar thermal energy. In this work, we demonstrate a solar receiver capable of reaching over 265 °C under ambient conditions without optical concentration. The high temperatures are achieved by leveraging an artificial greenhouse effect within an optimized monolithic silica aerogel to reduce heat losses while maintaining high solar transparency. This study demonstrates a viable path to promote cost-effective solar thermal energy at intermediate temperatures.