Radiative properties of transparent insulations made of a layer of parallel, small-diameter, thin-walled, visible light transparent pipes placed perpendicularly to the surface of a flat solar absorber are investigated theoretically. A formula for the radiation heat losses through the insulation is derived based on two main assumptions: the system is in steady-state and the fourth power of the temperature along each pipe is linear. Arguments in favor of the assumptions are given. The formula, combined with standard formulas for the conductive heat flux, enables prediction that a 10 cm thick transparent insulation under insolation of 1000 W/m2, at ambient temperature 20 °C, could theoretically raise the absorber temperature to 429 °C and produce 410 W mechanical power under the ideal Carnot cycle. In order to reach that high energy conversion efficiency, the insulation pipes should have diameter less than 0.5 mm and walls about 5 μm thick, which may be technologically challenging.

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