Reflective trough made from auto parts
Massachusetts Institute of Technology mechanical engineering professor Alex Slocum shows off a prototype of a reflective trough designed and being tested at MIT.
Parabolic troughs are a mainstay of large-scale concentrating solar power systems, which concentrate sunlight to make heat or squeeze more electricity from photovoltaic solar cells. The problem that troughs pose is that they accumulate dirt, which decreases their reflectivity, and they typically need to be placed on a terrain that is long and flat.
The prototype shown by Slocum, which is about one-tenth the scale of a commercial trough, is designed for low cost and modularity. The goal is to make it small enough so that auto industry parts can be used for the mechanisms that move the trough to follow the sun. Researchers also added a lip to the edge of the trough so that when heavy winds come, it will cause a vibration that will move the accumulated dirt, he explained.
May 5, 2010 8:31 AM PDT
Photo by: Martin LaMonica
| Caption by: Martin LaMonica
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