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Research Papers

Linear Solar Concentrator Structural Optimization Using Variable Beam Cross Sections

[+] Author and Article Information
Moucun Yang

School of Mechanical and Power Engineering,
Nanjing Tech University,
30 Puzhu South Road, Pukou,
Nanjing 211816, China
e-mail: young_2004@njtech.edu.cn

Yuezhao Zhu

School of Mechanical and Power Engineering,
Nanjing Tech University,
30 Puzhu South Road, Pukou,
Nanjing 211816, China
e-mail: zyz@njtech.edu.cn

Wei Fu

School of Mechanical and Power Engineering,
Nanjing Tech University,
30 Puzhu South Road, Pukou,
Nanjing 211816, China
e-mail: fuwei891231@gmail.com

Garth Pearce

School of Mechanical and
Manufacturing Engineering,
University of New South Wales,
Gate 14, Barker Street, Kensington,
Sydney 2052, NSW, Australia
e-mail: g.pearce@unsw.edu.au

Robert A. Taylor

School of Mechanical and
Manufacturing Engineering/School of
Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering,
University of New South Wales,
Gate 14, Barker Street, Kensington,
Sydney 2052, NSW, Australia
e-mail: Robert.Taylor@unsw.edu.au

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Solar Energy Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF SOLAR ENERGY ENGINEERING: INCLUDING WIND ENERGY AND BUILDING ENERGY CONSERVATION. Manuscript received October 2, 2017; final manuscript received May 3, 2018; published online June 26, 2018. Assoc. Editor: Marc Röger.

J. Sol. Energy Eng 140(6), 061006 (Jun 26, 2018) (8 pages) Paper No: SOL-17-1410; doi: 10.1115/1.4040273 History: Received October 02, 2017; Revised May 03, 2018

The design and construction of solar concentrators heavily affects their optical efficiency, heat utilization, and cost. Current trough concentrators use an equivalent uniform beam with a metal grid substructure. In this conventional design, there is surplus stiffness and strength, which unnecessarily increases the overall weight and cost of the structure. This paper describes a variable cross section structural optimization approach (with the EuroTrough design, including safety factors, taken as an example) to overcome this issue. The main improvement of this design comes from keeping the beams rigid and strong near the two ends (at the torque box structure) while allowing the middle of the structure to be relatively weak. Reducing the cross-sectional area of the middle beams not only reduces the amount of material needed for the structure but also reduces the deflection of the reflector. In addition, a new connection structure between two neighboring concentrator elements was designed to reinforce the structure. The simulated results show that the concentrator's structural weight (including the torque box, endplates, and cantilever arms) is reduced by 13.5% (i.e., about 133 kg per 12 m long element). This represents a meaningful capital and installation cost savings while at the same time improving the optical efficiency.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

Schematic of the proposed torque box

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Fig. 2

The EuroTrough model: (a) EuroTrough photograph and (b) ANSYS FEA model

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Fig. 3

Wind and gravitational loading

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Fig. 4

The proposed trough and connector design. (a) The proposed torque box design. (b) Local view of the connector. (c) Conceptual design of cross section of quasi‐bearing: 1—torque box, 2—concrete pedestal, 3—quasi‐bearing, 4—semi‐circular connector, 5—retainer, 6—rollers, and 7—outside rail.

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Fig. 5

Finite element analysis model of the connection structure: (a) Boundary condition of the designed structure. The DOFs of different segments of the semi‐circular beam are restricted on one end and the y‐axis transitional and z‐axis rotational DOFs in cylindrical coordinate are released, with an equivalent force applied on the other end. When the tracking angle is exactly 0 or 180 deg, these BCs are applied on the fourth–seventh segments. For a tracking angle of 30 deg, these BCs are applied to the third–sixth segments; for 60 deg, the BCs are applied to the second–fifth segments, and for 90 deg, the first–fourth segments get these BCs; for 120 and 150 deg, these BCs are applied to the fifth–eighth and the sixth–ninth segments, respectively. (b) BC on one end with tracking angle of 0 deg. (c) FEA model of the designed structure.

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Fig. 6

Average displacement and weight for each scheme

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Fig. 7

Comparison of the displacement of the two structures

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Fig. 8

Deformation and stress distribution of the presented collector at 40 m/s wind speed: (a) Deformation distribution (unit: mm), with the highest deformation area circled and (b) stress distribution (unit: MPa)

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Fig. 9

Deformation of a 72 m collector (unit: mm): (a) the presented collector and (b) the EuroTrough design

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Fig. 10

Soltrace model of the solar trough concentrator (note: only one segment of the reflector and 100 rays are shown): (a) Soltrace model and (b) flux distribution of the absorber

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