Infoscience

Journal article

Self-tracking solar concentrator with an acceptance angle of 32 degrees

Solar concentration has the potential to decrease the cost associated with solar cells by replacing the receiving surface aperture with cheaper optics that concentrate light onto a smaller cell aperture. However a mechanical tracker has to be added to the system to keep the concentrated light on the size reduced solar cell at all times. The tracking device itself uses energy to follow the sun's position during the day. We have previously shown a mechanism for self-tracking that works by making use of the infrared energy of the solar spectrum, to activate a phase change material. In this paper, we show an implementation of a working 53 x 53 mm(2) selftracking system with an acceptance angle of 32 degrees (+/- 16 degrees). This paper describes the design optimizations and upscaling process to extend the proof-of-principle self-tracking mechanism to a working demonstration device including the incorporation of custom photodiodes for system characterization. The current version demonstrates an effective concentration of 3.5x (compared to 8x theoretical) over 80% of the desired acceptance angle. Further improvements are expected to increase the efficiency of the system and open the possibility to expand the device to concentrations as high as 200x (C-geo = 400x, eta = 50%, for a solar cell matched spectrum). (C) 2014 Optical Society of America

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