Lightweight, low-cost heliostat mirror for concentrating solar power
1. A heliostat panel, comprising:
- a rigid foam creating a support structure having a first surface and a second surface opposite the first surface and a peripheral edge between the first surface and the second surface;
a reflective surface rigidly adhered to the rigid foam; and
a barrier layer circumscribing the peripheral edge and extending across the rigid foam, the first metal sheet, and the reflective surface.
Systems and methods are described herein that may be used to form a heliostat. Various reflective surfaces and support structures are described that permit lightweight construction of configurable heliostats.
|PORTABLE, SELF-SUSTAINED SOLAR DEPLOYMENT|
Patent #US 20120313569A1
Current AssigneeUniversity of Houston
Sponsoring EntityUniversity of Houston
|REFLECTIVE PANEL FOR SOLAR POWER GENERATION|
Patent #US 20130114155A1
Current AssigneeKonica Minolta Advanced Layers Inc
Sponsoring EntityKonica Minolta Advanced Layers Inc
|Lightweight, low-cost heliostat mirror for concentrating solar power|
Patent #US 10,036,878 B2
Current AssigneeLGarde Inc.
Sponsoring EntityLGarde Inc.
- 1. A heliostat panel, comprising:
a rigid foam creating a support structure having a first surface and a second surface opposite the first surface and a peripheral edge between the first surface and the second surface; a reflective surface rigidly adhered to the rigid foam; and a barrier layer circumscribing the peripheral edge and extending across the rigid foam, the first metal sheet, and the reflective surface.
- View Dependent Claims (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
- 11. A heliostat comprising, at least three panels including a first wing panel, a second wing panel, and a centerpiece panel, wherein each of the at least three panels comprise separate panels each having:
a rigid foam creating a support structure having a first surface and a second surface opposite the first surface and a peripheral edge between the first surface and the second surface, a reflective surface rigidly adhered to the rigid foam, and
- View Dependent Claims (12, 13, 14)
This application claims priority to U.S. Application No. 61/976,421, filed Apr. 7, 2014, titled “Lightweight, Low-Cost Heliostat Mirror for Concentrating Solar Power;” and U.S. Application No. 62/088,167, filed Dec. 5, 2014, titled “Lightweight, Low-Cost Heliostat Mirror for Concentrating Solar Power,” each of which are incorporated by reference in its entirety into this application.
One approach to solar electric power generation is to use one or more heliostats to heat and focus reflected solar radiation onto a container of high-specific-heat material. A heliostat is basically a flat plate with a highly reflective surface to efficiently reflect most of the solar radiation incident upon it onto the target container (the “receiver”). To accomplish this, the heliostat must be capable of tracking the sun across the sky and pointing the reflective surface in the appropriate direction to maintain the sun'"'"'s reflected radiation on the container. In its most basic form, the heliostat is a simple planar support structure, coated with a highly-reflective optical material and mounted on a tracking/pointing pedestal. The desirable qualities of a state-of-the-art heliostat are lightweight, low-cost, structurally rigid, environmentally durable, with a highly reflective surface. In improved designs, a very slight curvature in the heliostat mirror is introduced to enhance the focusing quality.
A new type of heliostat mirror and support structure are provided herein that make use of a novel design and material combinations.
An exemplary heliostat according to embodiments described herein may include a light weight support with one or both opposing surfaces coupled to a reflective material. The support, one or both opposing surfaces, and/or the reflective material may be flat or contoured. The light weight support may be, for example, a foam base. The reflective surface may be, for example, a metal sheet, mirrored film, or combinations thereof.
An exemplary heliostat according to embodiments described herein may include a support structure in which two or more sections are designed to be identical or mirror image duplicates. The exemplary heliostat may include attachable centerpieces between two or more of the identical or mirror image duplicate sections to control a desired shape of the heliostat. Therefore, the support structure may permit a configurable arrangement including a selectable curvature of the segments by interposing different centerpieces.
An exemplary heliostat according to embodiments described herein may include a support structure in which a first and second support structures are used to support a plurality of panels. The first support structure may include one or more components such as the wing and centerpiece configuration. The first support structure, second support structure, and combinations thereof may comprise interchangeable components such that the design of the heliostat may be configured by using selectable components. For example, curved or straight second support structures may be interchangeable, to impose a desired curvature to the heliostat panels.
The following detailed description illustrates by way of example, not by way of limitation, the principles of the invention. This description will clearly enable one skilled in the art to make and use the invention, and describes several embodiments, adaptations, variations, alternatives and uses of the invention, including what is presently believed to be the best mode of carrying out the invention. It should be understood that the drawings are diagrammatic and schematic representations of exemplary embodiments of the invention, and are not limiting of the present invention nor are they necessarily drawn to scale.
Although embodiments of the invention may be described and illustrated herein in terms of a heliostat comprising panels and support structures, it should be understood that embodiments of this invention are not so limited. Any combination of features described herein may be used singularly or in any combination to create any structure. Components or features from different embodiments therefore, can be duplicated, removed, integrated, separated, or combined with any other feature to achieve any combination of benefits described herein.
The exemplary lightweight base 4 may be used to provide the support structure for the heliostat and/or the shape of the heliostat. In an exemplary embodiment, the lightweight base 4 comprises a rigid foam. Exemplary rigid foams may include rigid expanded polystyrene (EPS), rigid polyurethane foam, epoxy foam, and carbon-reinforced foam.
Adhesives 8 may be used to bond the metal sheets to the foam support structure. In an exemplary embodiment, the adhesive is impervious to the weather and performs over a large temperature range. Examples of exemplary adhesives may include epoxy, silicone, urethane, polystyrene and polyester based adhesives in both liquid heat activated, hot melt, and spray on formats.
Thin metal sheets 6 may fully or partially cover one or more surfaces of the lightweight base 4. The thin metal sheets 6 can be, for example, stainless steel, aluminum, or titanium. The thin metal sheet may include a highly reflective or polished surface or may include a film to create the mirror surface. The thin reflective film may be eliminated if the top metal sheet used is a mirror-finish surface like mirror or super-mirror finish aluminum, mirror or super-mirror finish stainless steel, and mirror or super-mirror finish titanium.
If a thin reflective mirror film 12 is used, it may be made of one or more layers. An exemplary reflective mirror film 12 may be made of a thin polymeric material coated on the outer surface with a thin layer of reflective material, such as a metal. The reflective mirror film backing is typically comprised of materials such as thin polyimide, polyester (PET), polypropylene (OPP), polyethylene (PE), polyvinyl (PVC), nylon (BON), and polycarbonate (PC) film. In order to make the thin film reflective, a thin layer of silver or aluminum coating may be deposited on one surface. Exemplary embodiments described herein incorporate a mirror film. Film is understood to include any thin structure including, but not limited to, membrane, sheet, covering, coating, and combinations thereof.
For added protection against the environment, a moisture barrier 14, such as a moisture barrier rubber paint, may be applied all around the edges. For example, a moisture barrier 14 my enclose or cover the terminal ends of the respective layers of the lightweight base 4, metal sheets 6, and reflective mirror 12 to prevent separation of the layers. The moisture barrier 14 may also fully enclose the heliostat structure and contact the exterior surfaces of the reflective mirror film 12, the opposing thin metal sheet 6 or back side of the base 4 if a second metal sheet is not included, as well as the terminal ends of the respective layers, or any combination thereof. Other materials that can comprise an effective moisture barrier may include polyurethanes, acrylics, ethylene acrylic, nitrile, styrene butadiene, silicones, neoprenes, and epoxy.
An exemplary configuration is illustrated in
Embodiments described herein incorporate very low-cost, lightweight materials while simultaneously maintaining an extremely accurate surface quality. Our analytical models indicated that rms slope errors on the order of 0.15 milli-radians were achievable with this design. Consequently, two 1-meter by 1-meter in area by 4 inch thick prototype concentrators have been built and measured for surface quality.
Embodiments of the present disclosure also include proprietary methods for manufacturing and assembling the heliostat. Exemplary features of our production method include the use of inch-by-inch attachment, such as by bonding, of the mirror film to the stainless steel sheet using Teflon-coated rollers to apply pressure on the mirror film for stronger initial adhesion, and vacuum-bagging to assure excellent adhesion and prevention and elimination of bubbling. The fabrication may be automated using a roll-to-roll method wherein the thin metal sheets 6 are dispensed from a roller and applied onto either surface of the lightweight base 4 using a third roller. Adhesive application may also be automated by the use of jet nozzles. As the lightweight base 4 with the thin metal sheets 6 already bonded moves on a conveyor belt to the next section of the assembly line, the mirror film 12 may be applied to one of the metal sheets 6. This step is not necessary if one of the two metal sheets 6 used is already a reflective mirror.
The novel heliostat design described above may include several innovative support structures for the reflective panel that can reduce system cost and weight over conventionally-used structures.
The wings and centerpiece can be constructed from different materials, such as, for example, galvanized steel or aluminum.
The wings may be straight or (slightly) curved. Curvature provides more accurate focusing of the sun'"'"'s rays onto the target vessel. The curvature may be, for example, circular or parabolic.
Elements of the precision reflective surface may be mounted over the wings alone or over the wings as well as over the centerpiece.
In an exemplary embodiment, a slight curvature of the supported surface in the wing-wing direction is approximated by the centerpiece'"'"'s shape which, by its geometry, orients the wings in a slightly convergent manner. For example, as illustrated by the side elevation views of
By controlling wing-wing curvature by the centerpiece shape alone, the fabrication of a high number of structural units (each consisting of the precision surface and its support) with different wing-wing curvatures is made economical. Specifically, the wing sections may be uniformly made and a wing-wing curvature can be achieved by simply exchanging different centerpieces of greater or less tapering profiles. The shape of the centerpiece is determined by the distance of the heliostat structure from the target vessel, with less curvature required as the distance between heliostat and target increases. A lesser wing-wing curvature can be achieved with less taper, or a more rectangular shaped support structure.
For example, a middle section of a tri-sectional configuration, is interchangeable in the sense that there may be typically several such alternative mid-sections pre-fabricated, and on any of these the same wings can be mounted on the two sides. Due to the slight differences of the geometries of the center elements, the pair of wings (and the center element) end up constituting a somewhat concave mirror, the concavity of which depends on the central element used. The need for mirror concavity is a function of location in the heliostat field: mirrors nearer the receiver have to be more concave than those farther away. Accordingly, center pieces of certain shapes will end up being used in certain continuous areas/regions within the heliostat field, making the mirrors there have identical shapes—but somewhat different shapes from mirrors in other areas of the heliostat field.
So, on the one hand, the primary support includes the wing, center, wing as illustrated, but, because the center in this triplet is not exactly identical across the heliostat field, the illustrated wing, center, wing structure still does not require exact geometric uniformity for all heliostat units.
The construction concept of different center pieces used across the field aims at eliminating the need for geometric tuning by nuts, screws, and other devices, otherwise necessary if different heliostat shapes are needed. By using a set of slightly different prefabricated center pieces instead, nothing needs to be adjusted on the construction site. Instead, simply, the right type of centerpiece has to be used. This is faster and simpler if well managed.
The support layout 70 may be configured to take advantage of the wing-wing curvature control through interchangeable, unique centerpieces and common, identical wings to permit low cost production of adjustable or dynamic designs. The primary support 72, for example may include two wings 80 of mirror symmetry and a centerpiece 82. The wings and center piece may be coupled together to form a unitary primary support 72. The center piece support can be configured to angle the panels of the wings relative to the face or panels of the centerpiece. As shown, the downward projection of the centerpiece and wings is shown in dotted lines below the heliostat 70. The cross sectional shape of the illustrated centerpiece is square or rectangular, thus aligning the wings parallel or flat relative to the centerpiece. The centerpiece cross-section may be tapered as described above to impose an angle to the wings relative to the centerpiece.
The secondary support elements 74, 74′ may include rails of prismatic cross section which may be straight 74 or may be (slightly) curved 74′ as indicated in
The cross section shape described in the previous paragraph may be achieved with standard I-beams, by combining other standard structural profiles such as a pair of C channels back-to-back, or by a unique design.
The rails may also be mounted on the primary support by a rapid lock mechanism. The rapid lock mechanism between rails and primary support may include protrusions on one component and slots on the other where the protrusions fit, and holes across that are aligned when the protrusions are inserted. Fasteners (bolts, rivets, wedges, pegs, etc.) can be driven through these holes to firmly attach the secondary rails 74, 74′ to the primary support 72. The type of fastener to use depends on specific needs, e.g., on the need to rapid release or the lack thereof, or the need for precision.
The wings 1100 of the primary support 72 may be trusses of triangular cross section. The lateral struts (battens 1102 and diagonals 1104) on one face of the truss wings may be removable to permit nested stowage and shipping.
The precision surfaces described herein may be used with any support structures, such as any combination of support structures described herein or conventional support structures. In an exemplary embodiment, the support structure 36 of
Embodiments described herein may be used to dynamically configure a heliostat. The configuration of the heliostat may be configured such as to impose a desired curvature in one or more directions. As used herein, “curvature” is not limited to a continuous curvature, such as parabolic or elliptic smooth curves or surfaces. Instead, as used herein “curvature” includes a step-wise or piecewise curvature defined by adjacent planar or linear segments angled with respect to each other to form a perceived curvature along an entire length. Therefore, a heliostat face may be considered curved by the selected orientation and position of adjacent planar panels.
Although embodiments of this invention have been fully described with reference to the accompanying drawings, it is to be noted that various changes and modifications will become apparent to those skilled in the art. Such changes and modifications are to be understood as being included within the scope of embodiments of this invention as defined by the appended claims.