Project Name: Unique Single-Axis Tracking Planar Waveguide Optical Collector for CSP Modules
Funding Opportunity: CSP: COLLECTS
SunShot Subprogram: CSP
Location: Boston, MA
SunShot Award Amount: $628,478
Awardee Cost Share: $160,375
Agira is developing a very low-cost, flat optical collector based on refraction and total-internal reflection at optical interfaces between silicone polymers of different refractive indices. Incoming sunlight is progressively bent and eventually trapped within a glass substrate. Additional benefits include ease of installation and low operations and maintenance costs. The result will be a novel CSP collector which, when manufactured at large scale, will help to bring the cost of electricity below the SunShot target of $0.06 per kilowatt-hour.
The research team will use robust, low-cost materials and scalable industry-standard fabrication methods to create micro-scale light trapping optics technology. This includes injection molding and roll-to-roll processing. The product modules will then be installed at Sandia National Laboratories and tested for performance and reliability, which will help prepare the technology for commercialization.
This project utilizes precision mold fabrication and silicone injection molding to make high fidelity optics. Both of these processes are currently done in large volumes for LCD light guides and LED edge-lighting. These methods will allow for the development of integrated optical modules that are expected to achieve high sunlight-to-thermal-energy conversion efficiencies and a create pathway to low-cost waveguide modules. Rigorous testing under simulated accelerated aging tests and continuous monitoring under field conditions will ensure the modules have a 30-year lifetime.