The collaboration will involve testing and improving Global CSP’s solar energy collector system – the ‘solar captor’. Based on aircraft technology, the solar captor is fully insulated against extreme weather and offers considerable cost savings over traditionally fabricated solar energy collectors. It is designed for use in power generation, air-conditioning, chilling, water purification and desalination, providing hot-water up to super-steam for manufacturing process. In addition, the partnership will design and build a medium scale Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) generator.
ORC generators use a dense organic fluid with a low boiling point temperature, allowing power generation from lower temperature sources, making them ideal for solar energy collectors. Global CSP have already built a small 15kW ORC prototype but will be building two larger scale ORC power plants at Cranfield (one at 75kW -130kW and the second at 500kW – 1000kW).The ORC power plants will be used for waste heat recovery in the UK and global markets.
Dr Chris Sansom, leading the project for Cranfield University, said: “Traditional steam generators are used in large power plants to produce Megawatts of power and use conventional steam powered turbines to generate electricity. However there is huge potential for the innovative ORC technology to be used with low-cost, small-to medium scale solar thermal power units which could power industrial processes, agriculture and farming, food and drink, district heating, public buildings as well as serving remote off-grid communities in developing countries.”
Global CSP CEO Graham Provan said: “We are delighted to announce the collaboration with Dr Chris Sansom, one of the UK leaders in Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) along with his team. The ORC power plants will be designed and initially built at Cranfield, a leading UK university with a reputation for engineering excellence.”
Cranfield are part of the European ‘FRESH NRG’ Concentrated Solar Power research project launched earlier this year. Led by Italian company Laterizi Gambettola, it includes Cranfield University, German’s Fraunhofer Institute, HRS-SPF of Switzerland, and Jordan’s Mutah University.
The project aims to develop a highly innovative energy efficient solar receiver for industrial use. Cranfield will be developing a first-of-its-kind lean manufacturing machine to develop the specialist coating that surrounds the solar absorber and receiver tubes.
In addition, Cranfield is working on components for the building of a 5MW solar thermal power plant in Egypt for the European “MATS” CSP project, which aims to promote the exploitation of concentrated solar energy through small and medium scale facilities, suitable for fulfilling local power and heat requirements, and easy to back-up with the locally existing, or expressly producible, renewable fuels.