Solar thermal energy technology has taken an important step further with a new collaboration between 3M’s Renewable Energy Division and Gossamer Space Frames. The companies yesterday unveiled a new parabolic trough solar collector technology designed to reduce costs and equipment for Concentrated Solar Power systems. CSP is a solar system whereby sunlight is converted to heat and then the heat is converted to electricity. The demonstration system is installed at the Sunray Energy facility in Daggett, California.
3M and Gossamer’s collector is called Large Aperture Trough (LAT 73). It features a concentration factor of over 100x and an aperture size of 7.3m. It also features 3M’s high reflectivity Solar Mirror Film 1100. These panels are 50 percent lighter than glass and they offer 94.5 reflectivity.
It is a combination of optical performance and light weight that made possible the design of the large aperture collector. The system has been verified by the National renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), which measured an optical accuracy of more than 99 percent. The companies add these collector’s specs are worldwide benchmarks for the industry and promise a cost reduction of 25 percent.
“The LAT technology is an exciting development for the CSP industry, as it demonstrates the possibilities in solar concentrating technology,” said Dr. Dan Chen, business development manager at 3M Renewable Energy Division.