EDITOR’S NOTE: In the July 15, edition of the Miami Valley Sunday News, James Miley, retired director of the Troy Miami County Public Library, submitted a Letter to the Editor regarding the library’s solar collectors. In his letter, Miley he wrote that a statement in Patrick Hansford’s July 12 Troy Daily News column that the collectors were damaged when a library employee turned the system off was factually incorrect.
“The failure of the solar collectors was the result of design shortcoming that left the system unable to tolerate temperatures that plunged lower than -15 degrees,” Miley wrote. “A primary design shortcoming that contributed to the system failure was using water in the collectors and not using glycol, an anti-freeze.”
In response to Miley’s letter, Hansford wrote the following statement:
“(I have) contacted the original designers of the solar collector system for additional background on its original design and failure of the solar collector system.
“The system was designed under a grant from the United States Department of Energy as a demonstration project. The DOE grant required the system to utilize water in non-drainable evacuated tube collectors. The Federal government was not interested in demonstrating Glycol (an anti-freeze) in evacuated tube collectors.
“Circulation of water at night was enough to keep the system from freezing. The system was in operation for a number of years and under weather colder than stated by some commentators.
“The system eventually developed a leak. At which point, the water flow was turned off. This may have been seemed prudent by whomever was in charge of maintaining the system. However, as originally stated, this caused the collectors to freeze.
“The system at Troy was not unique. In fact, the Stark County library had the same system and went through obviously equal or worse weather conditions without the same fate. Stark County operated to the end of its useful life and was not replaced as there was no government funding as there was in the 1970’s.”
Additionally, Hansford wrote, the system’s designers informed him that, “The failure event was as you stated … the water flow was turned off as stated for such an extended time the collectors froze.”
In conclusion, Hansford said, “As a DOE demonstration project, the system was not permitted to use Glycol in the evacuated tube collectors. So Mr. Miley’s statement concerning the lack of antifreeze as a design shortcoming is incorrect.”