Breakthrough in concentrated solar power from partnership between 3M and Gossamer Space Frames

May 6, 2012 0 By Angie Bergenson

New solar collector could unlock great potential for solar energy

Solar thermal energy has taken a large step forward due to a new partnership between 3M’s Renewable Energy Division and Gossamer Space Frames, a developer of solar energy technologies. This week, the two companies revealed a new solar energy collection system that is designed specifically to reduce the cost of concentrated solar power (CSP) systems. CSP is a type of solar energy system in which sunlight is concentrated and directed at solar panels. These systems create a large amount of heat, which can be converted into electricity, thus making them powerful energy generation systems.

Lightweight system features reflective film to boost solar intensity

The companies revealed a new parabolic trough comprised of large solar panels at the Sunray Energy facility located in Daggett, California. The system is meant to demonstrate the capabilities of CSP and how a trough-like solar collector could unlock a new era of progress and efficiency. The solar panels used for the trough are comprised of lightweight materials, making the system more manageable and easier to install. The system is also equipped with 3M’s Solar Mirror Film 1100, which boasts of a reflectivity of 94%. This mirrored film will help concentrate sunlight, allowing the solar panels to generate more electricity.

System wins approval of National Renewable Energy Laboratory

The system is to be demonstrated at the Sunray Energy facility for several months before it is used for other purposes. The system has won verification from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory as being an efficient solar energy system. 3M and Gossamer Space Frames note that the system is capable of reducing the cost of CSP systems by 25% or more.

CSP may be the future of solar energy

Concentrated solar power has begun to generate a great deal of buzz due to its two-fold energy generation capabilities. These energy systems have long been burdened with problems concerning durability and efficiency, but companies like 3M and Gossamer Space Frames have been working to resolve these issues. With the development of the new trough solar collector system, the companies believe that CSP systems may soon enter into a veritable “golden age,” bringing the rest of the solar energy industry with them.

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