Solar Water Heaters Built On Waste Plastic Bottles & Cartons

Solar Water Heaters Built On Waste Plastic Bottles & Cartons

Solar water heaters can be constructed by simple materials such as plastic bottles. Jose Alano, who is a retired mechanic, invented a solar water heater built by simple and cheap materials.

It was in Brazil 2002, that José Alano, designed a solar water heater by using a pile of cartons and plastic bottles. However, since then thousands of people in southern Brazil have adopted Alano’s inventions. It does both save money and diminish waste.

The whole idea of recycling litter such as cartons and plastic bottles was motivated from the blemished landfill full with plastic and carton garbage. José Alano wanted to make something about the rubbish. So he and his wife built a solar heating system with the use of 100 milk cartons and 100 plastic bottles. He said that “It worked perfectly well, and we got rid of our waste in a responsible way”.

Invention Winning Prize

The initiative taken by Alano became popular in Brazil subsequent to winning the Superecologia prize. It is a prize provided by the Superinteressante magazine for renewable projects meant for the non-profit sector. Following, the reward of the prize, the Brazilian retired mechanic has been actively involved in workshops as well as giving lectures in community centres and schools, mainly close to his own resident at Santa Catarina.

Alano did not build the innovative solar heater system for profit but rather as a responsible consumer. He considers that his development is simply a minor contribution to protect the environment and help people to save money. The product invention is also registered by Jose Alano. This prevents businesses from promoting the solar water heater for profit motives and political usage during electoral campaigns. However, the invention can be used by any other individual; information is freely available in the public domain.

The recycled solar heater is propagated by the media and supported by electricity companies and local governments.

According to Alano, it is very hard to track the speed at which the recycled solar heater is being spread in Brazil. However, to provide a few figures for the southern state, there are already 7,000 people who are using solar heaters in Santa Caterina state. There actually two cooperatives that are encouraging and producing solar water heaters; Tubarão and Florianópolis. Moreover, in the Paraná state, there was more than 6,000 recycled solar heaters in 2008. The DIY leaflets available together with various workshops organised has motored this progress.

Saving Potentials

The renewable water heater saves roughly 30 percent of energy. The rubbish in the landfills is also less. Alano’s invention has motivated cooperation such as Tubarão to start collecting plastic bottle and carton boxes. Regrettably, this is only occurring in a few Brazilian towns.
Alano says he has even lost the count on how many times he has lectured students and groups about the invention. Besides, this is not Alano only design. He has other inventions such as a low cost multifunctional bed intent for disabled people, but he is still having trouble to find a business partner.

It is already eight years since his creation recycled solar heater was launced. He is now starting to emphasis on other projects like the multifunctional bed. He also explains that he does not consider himself as an inventor rather a citizen trying to solve some common problems.


There is a great climate difference in Brazil and major part of Europe and United States. However, Alano’s design of the solar water heater is based on the same thermosyphon technology used in commercial heaters that are sold in UK for around £6,000. The system uses natural heat to induce circulation of water. Hot water which is less dense moves upwards while cold water, which is denser, moves downwards.

The only material required to build a recycled water heater are:
1. 2L plastic bottles (60),
2. Cartons (50),
3. 00mm PVC pipe (70 cm)
4. 20mm PVC pipe (11.7m)
5. 90-degree 20 mm PVC elbows (4)
6. 20mm PVC T-connectors (20)
7. 20 mm PVC end caps (2)
8. PVC glue
9. Black matt pain
10. Roller
11. Sand paper
12. Self-amalgamating tape
13. Rubber hammer, saw, wood or other material for the support.

Source: The Ecologists

DIY Leaflet but only in Portuguese

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RPN's contributed to this report.

Professional freelancer in Green Technology and Scientific Development. Educational background in the field of Human Resources Management.

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