Optimal solar concentrator device for a better energy efficiency on space-based systems

Ref-Nr: TDO0159

Technology abstract

The technology, presented in a patent co-funded by the French Space Agency (CNES), relates to a static device for solar concentration, which produces heat and/or electricity for a space-based application with a higher performance than previous systems.

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A CNES engineer has recently decided to use this space-based patent to develop deployable and mobile mini power station and autonomous public lighting solutions. Tech2Market is supporting his company during the technology transfer and is helping him to find industrial partners and customers. A first prototype of the autonomous solar public lights system has already been installed in Toulouse.

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Technology Description

Various different solar concentrator systems based on the use of cylindrical parabolic mirrors (one axis) or spherical (two axes) have been developed in the past to produce electricity and heat from solar energy. However, none of these provides fully optimal reflection and they can?t recover the entire flux received on the energy collector to maximize the rate of concentration.

The technology co-patented by the CNES is able to focus the entire solar flux received on the energy collector in a static device and with the highest rate of concentration. The main innovation compared to the previous systems is the shape of the components around the focusing area: two proximal portions with reflective surfaces, referred to as ?spiral reflectors?, are further combined with mirrors to increase the level of concentration.

The inventor has determined that, contrary to an Archimedean spiral or other type of mathematical spiral, a "spiral" with this form ensures that all light rays incident at the opening aperture are focused on the energy collector (e.g. photovoltaic cell), avoiding spurious reflection from the outside.

The focus area is a rectangular flat surface that can be covered with solar cells. Ideally, a cooling circuit could be added to avoid overheating of photovoltaic cells (maintaining them at less than 70�C) and improve their performance. The orientation of each concentrator device (that is to say its mid-plane) and the opening of its reflective solar radiation-receiving device can be tailored to the particular application. In one embodiment, these parameters are adjusted so that the solar radiation is captured for the entire range of solar incidence. In another embodiment, these parameters are adapted so that only part of the range of solar incidence is received.

Innovations & Advantages

The concentrator devices and sensors, especially in the form of panels, are, according to the invention, particularly advantageous for production of electricity and hot water :

  • For domestic use (rooftops and houses),
  • Industrial and urban use of any unused area facing south (facades and roofs factory, noise walls of highway edges or TGV lines)
  • The achievement of power plants and desalination plants and water purification facilities in sunny, warm and desert countries
  • For electrical generation on space systems, from low to very high power (space power plant).

As a deployable and mobile mini power station in times of crisis to meet military needs or civil security.

Current and Potential Domains of Application

The concentrator devices and sensors, especially in the form of panels, are, according to the invention, particularly advantageous for production of electricity and hot water :

  • For domestic use (rooftops and houses),
  • Industrial and urban use of any unused area facing south (facades and roofs factory, noise walls of highway edges or TGV lines)
  • The achievement of power plants and desalination plants and water purification facilities in sunny, warm and desert countries
  • For electrical generation on space systems, from low to very high power (space power plant).

As a deployable and mobile mini power station in times of crisis to meet military needs or civil security.