Skip to main content

Development of a low cost European desalination and process heat collector

Exploitable results

Solar parabolic trough collectors are the key element in the current commercial application of concentrating solar thermal power plants. Although other concentrators promise higher concentration factors and higher system efficiencies, the parabolic trough will continue paving the way for concentrating solar power. Considering this importance, a European consortium has developed the next generation of a parabolic trough collector based on European know-how and the long operating experience of the LUZ collector types LS-2 and LS-3 in the Californian Mojave Desert. Within Phase I of the EUROTrough project an advanced parabolic trough collector has been developed for various applications in the 200-400 degrees Celsius temperature range for solar fields capable of delivering up to hundreds of MW of energy. With this, a step towards more competitive solar power generation has been achieved based on the expectations of lower cost and higher performance of the collector. Similar to other European project work on trough collectors (e.g., direct steam generation) this project aims at improved market penetration in the near-term future. The work targeted collector development for a wide range of applications: -Solar thermal electricity generation. -Solar thermal process heat applications. -Solar thermal sea-water desalination. The design of a new support structure for the collector, a key objective, included concept studies, wind tunnel measurements, and finite element method (FEM) analyses, resulting in a structure with a central box framework element. This torque box design will have lower weight and less deformation of the collector structure than other designs considered. Therefore it will be possible in the future to connect more collector elements on one drive, resulting in a lower total number of drives and interconnecting pipes, and thus reducing the installation cost and thermal losses. In terms of the degree of material usage further weight reduction will be possible. Other design work included the drive and control systems, mirror attachments, manufacturing and transport scenarios, and construction methods. The new design has achieved significant cost reduction for manufacturing, installation and operation which is the most important goal of the EUROTrough project. A prototype collector segment has been set-up and is under testing at PSA (Plataforma Solar de Almer?a) for its thermal and mechanical properties in a follow-up project.