3M and Gossamer Space Frames have unveiled a new parabolic trough solar collector for CSP power plants. The Large Aperture Trough 73 (LAT 73) features a concentration factor of over 100 and an aperture height of 7.3 m and length of 192 m, which is achieved by 16 elements of each 12 m length. The total collector area is about 1,400 m2.
The system uses a high reflectivity solar mirror film developed by 3M. The mechanical design was developed by Gossamer Space Frames. Both companies expect that the big collector can reduce the installed cost of a parabolic trough solar field by over 25 %. A demonstration system is fully operational and is installed at the Sunray Energy facility in Daggett, California. Sunray is owned and operated by Cogentrix Energy, LLC (Cogentrix) and is the longest operating CSP facility in the United States.
“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. The 3M Solar Mirror Film 1100 reflector panels are about 50 % lighter than glass and offer 94.5 % reflectivity (solar weighted total hemispherical reflectance).The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has verified performance of the system, measuring an optical accuracy of more than 99 %.
The new system began operating in October 2011 and provides a peak of approximately 275 kW of electricity to the output of the Sunray facility, all of which is provided under contract to Southern California Edison. A second LAT 73 project is underway in the Southern US, with the project commissioning scheduled for June 2012.
The LAT 73 is the second biggest parabolic trough collector worldwide, only the Ultimate trough collector developed by Flabeg is bigger. It has an aperture height of 7.5 m and total length of 242 m (collector area ~ 1,800 m2).