World’s Largest Aperture Parabolic Trough Installation

3M’s Renewable Energy Division has teamed with Gossamer Space Frames to unveil a new parabolic trough solar collector technology designed to significantly reduce equipment and installation costs for CSP systems used in power generation. The Large Aperture Trough 73 (LAT 73) features a concentration factor of over 100x and an aperture size of 7.3 m, both world benchmarks for the industry.

The system combines the durability, design flexibility, and high reflectivity of 3M Solar Mirror Film 1100 with the mechanical design innovations of Gossamer Space Frames; the result is a CSP solar collector system that reduces the installed cost of a parabolic trough solar field by over 25 percent. The 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 concentrated solar technology,” said Dr. Dan Chen, business development manager, 3M Renewable Energy Division.

“By combining 3M innovations in materials and Gossamer Space Frames innovations in structure and alignment, we are leading the industry on a new cost-reduction trend,” said Glenn Reynolds, President and Co-founder of Gossamer Space Frames. “Many in the industry thought the re-birth of CSP was not possible, but we are delighted to prove them wrong. Not only does this design revitalize CSP, but the entire system comprises U.S.-manufactured components that, in turn, helps to create U.S. jobs. We are thrilled to continue leading the way in CSP.”

3M Renewable Energy Division and Gossamer Space Frames, located in Huntington Beach, Calif., worked together closely on the LAT 73. The system’s technical and economic viability is enabled by 3M Solar Mirror Film 1100 reflector panels, which are 50 percent lighter than glass, and offer 94.5 percent reflectivity (solar weighted total hemispherical reflectance). The combination of the film’s superior optical performance and light weight enables the high accuracy, large aperture collector design. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has verified performance of the system, measuring an optical accuracy of more than 99 percent.

“We are pleased to be the first site for this state-of-the art technology,” said Sid Frymyer, General Manager of Sunray Energy. “Innovative developments like this help demonstrate the on-going advancements that lower the cost of solar energy within the U.S. power supply mix.”

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.

3M and Gossamer Space Frames have received significant interest in the LAT 73 system from the global CSP industry. A second LAT 73 project is underway in the Southern U.S., with the solar project commissioning scheduled for June 2012.

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