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Lighter solar collector made 50 percent more efficient

Maximising efficiencies whilst minimising cost and weight are the constant challenges facing designers of the 21st century. A German company's response is the design of a new collector for a solar parabolic trough power plant that is lighter and more efficient than comparative products.

Energy

Within the framework of the Euro Trough II project, the total length of the collector troughs had to be extended from the current state-of-the-art 100 metres to 150 metres. Additional efficiencies were gained with the reduction of drive pylons, tracking mechanisms controllers and flexible joints of a solar field, all contributing to a total of 30kgr/m². The new collector design comprises a 12-metre long torque box with 14 cantilever arms on each side, which the mirrors are attached to. Further, the high torque resistance of the Euro Trough led to an increase from eight to twelve 12 metre Solar Collector Elements (SCEs) per drive unit. This in turn led to a further cost saving because of the reduced number of drive units required for the collector. As a result of this project, the detailed results of the structural behaviour under all conditions were obtained. Other results included technical description and specifications of all collector components, construction and workshop drawings of all collector parts and design drawings of collector jigs, field assembly procedures and the required tools. In general, the new collector design has fewer parts, a lower specific weight, is easier to assemble on site and displays an increased collector capability. Hence, the end result is a less expensive and more efficient solar collector, which will reduce solar thermal electricity generation costs.

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