SkyFuel’s Parabolic Trough Garners Prize for Technology Innovation

SkyFuel took its place among the concentrating solar power (CSP) industry’s leaders last week when CSP Today named SkyTrough® the winner of the 2010 "CSP Commercialized Technology Innovation of the Year" award. Announced at last week’s International concentrated solar energy Summit in Seville, the award is intended to highlight a technology that is commercially available and demonstrates an innovative approach to concentrating and collecting solar energy.

The SkyTrough is a utility scale parabolic trough solar concentrator and harnesses the sun’s energy to make steam for electricity generation. Areva and Infinia were recognized as finalists for the award.

The SkyTrough offers a dramatic departure from prior state-of-the-art parabolic trough concentrating solar collectors in its use of ReflecTech-based reflectors in place of fragile, heavy glass-based mirror facets. ReflecTech® Mirror Film, developed collaboratively by SkyFuel and the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), is laminated to 0.05" aluminum to form shatterproof, monolithic mirrors that weigh half as much as traditional sagged glass mirrors.

ReflecTech is a low-cost, high-reflectance silverized polymer film shown to be durable for over 20 years in ongoing accelerated weathering tests at NREL’s optical materials laboratory. The lightweight monolithic mirror panels are easy and quick to install, requiring no optical adjustment. The panels and their parabolic contour are held in place by a precision guide track. The reflectors are supported by an aluminum space frame that is assembled rapidly in the field, and further reduces installation cost.

In 2009, R&D Magazine selected the SkyTrough as one of the 100 most technologically significant products introduced into the marketplace, marking the first time a parabolic trough collector has been recognized for the prestigious R&D 100 Award — nicknamed the "Oscars of Invention" by the Chicago Tribune.

SkyFuel is in commercial dialog with a number of project developers and engineering procurement contractors (EPCs), and expects to announce a commercial installation contract in early 2011. "There is a new and urgent interest in cost reduction in the renewable energy market, which can only be achieved through innovation," said SkyFuel’s Chief Commercial Officer, Kelly Beninga. "The announcement of this award is very beneficial for us, since many potential customers now see that the SkyTrough delivers low cost and high performance." On their "Industry Insight" page, CSP Today called 2010 a "defining year" for SkyFuel.

SkyFuel, Inc. is a solar thermal power technology and service provider founded in 2007. SkyFuel solar collectors harness solar radiation to produce steam for electricity generation and industrial applications. SkyFuel offers a high performance, glass-free parabolic trough solar thermal collector, called the SkyTrough®. SkyFuel’s wholly owned subsidiary, ReflecTech, Inc., holds the exclusive license to manufacture and market ReflecTech® Mirror Film. SkyFuel is also developing next-generation, high-temperature parabolic trough and linear Fresnel systems.