Pyron and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) recently announcedthat SDG&E is building a demonstration project to test Pyron’spatented concentrated solar power system. The system uses shallow poolsof water as a passive cooling system for high efficiency solar cells. Pyron’s U.S. Patent No. 7,299,632(‘632 Patent) is entitled "Solar electricity generator" and is directedto a solar electrical generator comprising a concentrator, ahomogenizer and a photovoltaic (PV) cell. The concentrator concentratessolar rays onto an entrance surface of the homogenizer, which is inturn attached to a PV cell.
The concentrators are positioned in troughs (1) that sit in bodiesof water (5). The water (5) acts as a passive coolant to disperse theheat generated by the PV cells.
In addition, buoyancy torque created by pumping the water (5)between ballast compartment (8) and ballast compartment (9) andpressure differentials between the compartments pivots the troughs (1)to keep the lenses (2) aimed directly at the sun.
The lenses (2) concentrate solar rays (3) at focal spot (4).According to the ‘632 Patent, the highly concentrated "pencil" of solarrays (3) then enter homogenizer (43) and are evenly distributed onto PVcell (4’) by loss-free total internal reflection.
According to the ‘632 Patent, this system makes better use of solarfarm real estate by covering 87 percent of the set-aside land. Pyron’salso touts the greater power production and reliability of its passivecoolant design, noting that it protects the equipment from exposure toextreme wind.
Pyron plans to stock the pools of water with fish to prevent mosquito infestation, leading Matter Network to speculate that "perhaps the fish farms of the future will double as solar energy collectors."
Eric Lane is a patent attorney and intellectual property lawyerat Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps in San Diego, where he is inthe Intellectual Property and Climate Change & Clean Technologypractices. Eric is the founder and author of Green Patent Blog, which provides discussion and analysis of intellectual property law issues in clean technology.