Technical Briefs

Optical Analysis of a Heliostat Array With Linked Tracking

[+] Author and Article Information
M. T. Dunham

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
University of Minnesota,
Minneapolis, MN 55455

A. Mathur

Terrafore, Inc.,
Minneapolis, MN 55402

W. Lipiński

e-mail: lipinski@umn.edu
Department of Mechanical Engineering,
University of Minnesota,
Minneapolis, MN 55455

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Solar Energy Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF SOLAR ENERGY ENGINEERING. Manuscript received April 30, 2012; final manuscript received February 2, 2013; published online April 29, 2013. Assoc. Editor: Akiba Segal.

J. Sol. Energy Eng 135(3), 034501 (Apr 29, 2013) (4 pages) Paper No: SOL-12-1112; doi: 10.1115/1.4023593 History: Received April 30, 2012; Revised February 02, 2013

The optical performance of a novel solar concentrator consisting of a 400 spherical heliostat array and a linked two-axis tracking system is analyzed using the Monte Carlo ray-tracing technique. The optical efficiency and concentration ratio are compared for four different heliostat linkage configurations, including linkages of 1 × 1, 1 × 2, 2 × 2, 4 × 4, and 5 × 5 heliostats for 7-hour operation and the selected months of June and December. The optical performance of the concentrator decreases with the increasing number of heliostats in the individual groups due to increasing optical inaccuracies. In June, the best-performing linked configuration, in which 1 heliostat in the east-west direction and 2 heliostats in the north-south direction are linked, provides a monthly-averaged 7-hour optical efficiency and average concentration ratio of 79% and 511 suns, respectively. In December, the optical efficiency and the average concentration ratio decreases to 61% and 315 suns, respectively.

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Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

Model solar concentrating system of 400 heliostats: (a) isometric view of the system, and (b) top view of the system. The receiver is situated at the south end of the field, with a circular aperture lying in the indicated tilted plane. Here, z = 0 at the ground level.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 2

Basic geometric parameters of the heliostat

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 3

Daily (a) optical efficiency, and (b) average concentration ratio for 7-hour operation on a characteristic day of each month




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