Project Name: Improving Solar Energy Mirror Array Performance under Windy Conditions
Funding Program: Small Business Voucher Pilot
SunShot Subprogram: Technology to Market
Location: Bay Village, OH
SunShot Award Amount: $275,000
Partner Laboratory: Sandia National Laboratories
Skysun, LLC is developing a solar collector that relies on an array of carefully arranged mirrors, referred to as “ganged heliostats,” that use an optical method to eliminate the astigmatism that commonly occurs in high-incidence solar thermal systems. The collector has the potential to drastically reduce both component and installation costs. However, the company faces challenges modeling its technology with high-fidelity and evaluating the performance of its prototype system. This project will rely on Sandia National Laboratories’ advanced modeling capabilities to better understand and refine the system.
Typical heliostats require each mirror to have its own base, foundation and motor. Skysun’s combination of patented and patent-pending technology gangs together many heliostats to share motors and support structure instead. The technology was developed from design to prototype and, with collaboration from NASA’s Solar Collector Laboratory at its Glenn Research Center, the design’s durability has been proven.
Previous tests have shown that the design can achieve industry-expected accuracy with wind speeds of 15 to 20 miles per hour. Further modeling conducted under this project will help advance the technology along its path to commercialization by helping Skysun evaluate methods for reducing the degree to which wind affects the mirrors’ accuracy. Reducing the costs of these mirror systems can make solar energy increasingly cost-competitive with other electricity sources.