|Best Cost Concentration-
Solar energy is plentiful, but diffuse. The concentration of
solar energy enables a wide array of applications, including
industrial steam, process heating, air conditioning, sterling
engines, concentrating photovoltaics, etc.
Solar concentrating systems also offer the hope of being the
most cost-effective method of capturing and utilizing solar
energy, but the fact remains that traditional
combustion-based generation of thermal and electrical
energy is still considerably less expensive for the typical
One method of closing the cost gap between traditional and
solar power generation is though the use of film-based
reflective materials, as opposed to traditional glass mirrors.
The first patents for this technology were allowed in the late
1960's, and several systems were developed over the
following 2 decades. A large field of mirror film trackers with
integral Sterling engines was placed in southern California
by LaJet/Cummings in the early 1990's. The site was
abandoned after brief operation, primarily because of poor
durability of the film material made by 3M Corp., who then
abandoned the manufacture of reflective film. Also, to
prevent wrinkling of the film, an underlayment of stainless
steel sheet was typically used by designers, which
increased the cost and weight of the sun-tracking
structures. The combination of dish weight and heavy
sterling engines required a heavy tracking structure.
Dish/Engine design settled on glass mirror reflectors, which
again required increased weight of the sun-tracking
Better reflective film materials were researched at NREL,
and at Reflectech Solar, now part of Skyfuels/Sunshine Kadi
Group. Film durability has improved significantly, and will
likely continue to improve.
ABF Solar's technology uses no underlayment material, but
instead uses a patented floating batten and solar
tensioning systems to inhibit wrinkling.
A lightweight yet strong dish design enables a very low mass
for the tracking structure to move, but the film must still
survive periodic high winds. ABF Solar has developed a
weathervaning stowage mode which protects the dishes
from high wind and hail events. The prototype survived 9
years prior to failing last winter. An improved tracker design
will provide a minimum of 25 years of service.
A big advantage of vacuum deforming film is the ability to
dynamically adjust focal length, which offers flexibility in
implementation, and also provides the ability to quickly
return dishes to a safe unfocused condition in the event that
tracking control is lost.
Looking for Partners
We are looking for a user/partner to build a 20KW
Do you have a year-round need for hot water or low
Are you located in a region with good solar resource?
Do you have an interest in participating in the development
and testing of the next-generation of high-energy solar
Intellectual property of new developments will be shared.
Expressions of interest can be forwarded to Doug Simmers
|A Better Focus Co. is proud to announce the allowance of our first patent
for our VacuDish concentrating technology, U.S Patent # 7,374,301, and a
subsequent patent for weathervaning wind stowage mode, US Pat. #