PROJECT PROFILE: University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (CSP: COLLECTS)

You are here

Project Name: Development of a Planar Focusing Collector for CSP
Funding Opportunity: CSP: COLLECTS
SunShot Subprogram: CSP
Location: Urbana, IL
SunShot Award Amount: $1,381,879
Awardee Cost Share: $345,879

The goal of this work is to develop a flat solar collector that acts like a conventional curved trough collector. The planar focusing collector (PFC) is a potentially lower-cost alternative to the conventional parabolic trough concentrator. The PFC will be manufactured using specially-designed metasurfaces. The final deliverable will be a flat focusing element that focuses sunlight with 97% efficiency or higher.

Approach

The research team will utilize metasurface design, which uses artificially-created, two-dimensional, thin, metallic surfaces that are designed to exhibit properties not found in nature. Metasurfaces change the behavior of light in ways that are counterintuitive to an observer. This type of technology has been used to focus light on a single point, but this project addresses the challenge of focusing light over a very broad range of optical wavelengths and with little to no loss. In addition to metasurface design, novel roll-to-roll manufacturing will also be developed to meet the design specifications of the PFC and cost requirements at large scale.

Innovation

The design approach will result in a metalized PFC that is significantly lighter than current parabolic trough mirrors. The team plans for the PFC to have an approximately 97% solar-weighted reflectance. The reduced surface area of the PFC and lower sensitivity to wind loads will contribute to overall cost reduction, as well.