Research Papers

Heliostat Attitude Control Strategy in the Solar Energy Research Facility of Valparaiso University

[+] Author and Article Information
Shahin S. Nudehi

Associate Professor
Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Valparaiso University,
Valparaiso 46383, IN
e-mail: shahin.nudehi@valpo.edu

G. Scott Duncan

Associate Professor
Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Valparaiso University,
Valparaiso 46383, IN
e-mail: scott.duncan@valpo.edu

Luke J. Venstrom

Assistant Professor
Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Valparaiso University,
Valparaiso 46383, IN
e-mail: luke.venstrom@valpo.edu

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 November 9, 2018; final manuscript received April 3, 2019; published online April 18, 2019. Assoc. Editor: Marc Röger.

J. Sol. Energy Eng 141(5), 051005 (Apr 18, 2019) (8 pages) Paper No: SOL-18-1515; doi: 10.1115/1.4043438 History: Received November 09, 2018; Accepted April 06, 2019

In this paper, a continuous tracking strategy for the heliostat in the James S. Markiewicz Concentrated Solar Energy Research Facility at Valparaiso University is developed. A model of the nonlinear dynamics of the heliostat motion is developed and the open-loop control strategy is presented. Asymptotic stability of the heliostat control using the Lyapunov and LaSalle’s theorems was proven. Simulations using the nonlinear dynamic model are presented and interpreted to identify the feedback gain that maximizes the time response of the heliostat without introducing oscillations in its motion. Finally, the control strategy is put to the test during summertime operation. The data presented show that the tracking strategy has an root mean square (RMS) tracking error of 0.058 mrad, where the error is defined as the difference between the desired and actual heliostat positions. Images of the aperture of a high-temperature solar receiver over 8 h of testing are also presented to qualitatively demonstrate the success of the tracking strategy.

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Fig. 1

The James S. Markiewicz Solar Energy Research Facility (outside view)

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Fig. 2

The James S. Markiewicz Solar Energy Research Facility (inside view)

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Fig. 3

Side view of heliostat mirrors along with heliostat azimuth and elevation angles and associated coordinates

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Fig. 4

Experimental results for azimuth and elevation degrees responses to (±24 V) step changes in the motors voltages

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Fig. 5

Control system simulation results for azimuth and elevation degrees

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Fig. 6

Simulation results for supply voltages in the control system responses of azimuth and elevation degrees

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Fig. 7

Experimental results versus simulation results for azimuth and elevation angles

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Fig. 8

Experimental results versus simulation results for azimuth and elevation motors armature currents

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Fig. 9

The actual and desired heliostat (a) elevation and (b) azimuth during sun-tracking on June 13, 2016. The time indicated on the abscissa is the clock time.

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Fig. 10

The front face of the high-temperature reactor used at SERF

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Fig. 11

Light pattern at the front face of the reactor at (a) 9:30 a.m., (b) 11:30 a.m., (c) 2:00 p.m., and (d) 4:30 p.m.



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