ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Parabolic trough systems and their components

Updated on June 27, 2012

Concentrating solar power (CSP) systems, especially parabolic troughs with their most proven and tested designs have their place in the power generation market. They increase their potential by delivering more consistent power by implementing thermal storage tanks or integrate them into natural gas combined cycle plants. Yet another advantage I would like to discuss is the option to use proven, off-the-shelf (OTS) material for many of their components.

The picture below gives a very schematic view of the main components of the collector. It is a side view showing the sunlight being reflected by the reflector/mirror and focused on the absorber tube, also called heat collection element (HCE). The absorber runs along the focal line of the parabolic trough and contains a heat transfer medium. By focusing and thus concentrating the sunlight, the medium is being heated up and, via heat exchanger, heats up steam for the steam turbine on the power generation side.

The collector is mounted on a pylon along the North/South axis and rotates as it tracks the sun from East to West throughout the day. Details and lots of other useful information can be found, e.g., on the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s website.

Source

Many parts of a parabolic trough plant can be designed by using OTS parts or proven components, which are readily available. Ranging from the support structures, reflector/mirrors, tubing, heat transfer fluid, motors on the solar field side, to turbines, or cooling towers, etc. on the power generation side.

Basic components of the collectors on the solar field side are the reflectors. Their purpose is to reflect as much of the sun’s rays as possible and therefore, they either consist of mirror glass, polymer mirror films, which are lightweight and low cost, or thin metal based mirror sheets with durable protective coating. The choice will depend on the desired reflectivity, weight, and durability in a sometimes rough environment (sand, wind, rain).

The material of choice for the heat collection element is usually an austenitic stainless steel tube with excellent corrosion resistance at high temperatures, given the temperature range of about between 250 and 400 deg C of the fluid that flows inside. The heat transfer medium that runs within the absorber tube is usually a commercially available synthetic (common brands are Dowtherm A, Therminol VP-1, or Xceltherm 600, e.g.) or mineral oil (for the lower temperature range, ca. 300 deg C max).

Some prototype plants are testing molten salt or water (direct steam generation) as heat transfer medium to increase the working temperature and thus efficiency.

Popular materials for the support structure are steel or aluminum (due to its high strength-to-weight ratio and corrosion resistance). The tracking system can consist of off-the-shelf motors, sensors, and even tracking algorithms are available.

Power generation components like heat exchangers, steam turbines and generators, and other typical plant equipment like condenser, pumps, etc., are the same like in a conventional power plant.

Of course, this should not imply that the way is all clear for CSP power plants. Besides the issue of market competitiveness, they encounter numerous other challenges.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)