Parabolic Trough for Concentrating Solar Power

SkyFuel, Inc. has launched a new research and development (R&D) program on a colossal parabolic trough concentrating solar collector that features greater sun concentration than the commercially available, state-of-the-art SkyTrough®, itself an improvement on previous generation glass-based technology.

The new collector will be designed to operate at higher temperatures, making thermal storage even more cost effective for electricity production after the sun sets, to satisfy the baseload needs of utilities. The $4.3 Million research effort is jointly funded by SkyFuel and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), with the shared goal to improve Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) technology and accelerate market-readiness.

"Developing low-cost, renewable energy generation is crucial to meeting our nation’s increasing demands for electricity," said Secretary Chu in a press release announcing the research awards. "By investing in the development of low-cost solar technologies we can create new jobs and pave the way towards a clean-energy future."

The advanced baseload trough builds on the innovative features of the SkyTrough®, and leverages parallel DOE-supported efforts in heat transfer fluid and storage media. As with the SkyTrough®, ReflecTech® Mirror Film will be used in place of heavy glass mirrors. ReflecTech® mirror panels are even more optically accurate than glass mirrors, making very large reflectors possible. All of these advances serve to lower the installed cost of solar fields and accelerate the expansion of clean solar power into the market.

SkyFuel’s Chief Technology Officer, Randy Gee, noted that "this ambitious new R&D program has prompted us to further augment our technical team and invest in new equipment for our Development Test Center." David White, who has led the SkyTrough® manufacturing effort for the past year, was promoted to Chief Engineering Officer, and engineers Doug Werner and Robert Tatum were hired to lead the development of the new baseload parabolic trough collector. Gary Jorgensen, formerly a Principal Scientist at the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) has joined the team to support advances in ReflecTech® Mirror Film.

While demand for low cost CSP technology is driving the SkyTrough’s commercial success, SkyFuel is moving forward to make CSP even more attractive to utilities through cost reduction and the integration of dispatchability into parabolic trough collector technology. SkyFuel’s CEO, Rick LeBlanc, commented that "we are committed to making clean, affordable solar energy available around the globe and around the clock."

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.