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The SkyTrakker™ Parabolic Trough Control System

[+] Author Affiliations
Coleman Moore, David LeSuer

SkyFuel, Inc., Arvada, CO

Paper No. ES2009-90160, pp. 635-642; 8 pages
  • ASME 2009 3rd International Conference on Energy Sustainability collocated with the Heat Transfer and InterPACK09 Conferences
  • ASME 2009 3rd International Conference on Energy Sustainability, Volume 2
  • San Francisco, California, USA, July 19–23, 2009
  • Conference Sponsors: Advanced Energy Systems Division and Solar Energy Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4890-6 | eISBN: 978-0-7918-3851-8
  • Copyright © 2009 by ASME


The SkyTrakker™ is a highly accurate and highly efficient parabolic trough control system. The system includes the microprocessor control board, separate motor controller, and sensors (temperature, position, hydraulic pressure). The SkyTrakker™ has several distinct advantages and design features that provide better manufacturability, shorten installation time, and reduce O&M cost. Some of the advantages and features are: 1. Maximum control and performance with reduced parasitic power consumption. 2. Lower motor input power consumption during deploy, tracking and stow (the SkyTrakker™ uses 52% of the power consumed at NSO). 3. Simple 110v AC single-phase motor requirements with digital motor interface to reduce parasitic power consumption at motor start-up and during tracking. 4. Local or remote monitoring and control. 5. Separate motor control providing a high level of motor power isolation from the electronics. 6. Microprocessor based control board offering fast response, monitoring of HTF temperature, SCA position, hydraulic pressures, and control of the motor. 7. Enhanced field diagnostics to isolate position sensor and motor control problems and provide run-time status of operation. 8. Accurate tracking using virtual tracking algorithms, eliminating the use and maintenance of sun sensors. The SkyTrakker™ control system is modular and designed for quick assembly and installation at the SCA pylon. The major sub-system parts (control board and motor controller) are pre-assembled and are mounted on a pre-wired mounting panel. The NEMA 4 electrical enclosure can be mounted to the pylon with or without the internal pre-wired panel, providing installation flexibility when building the field. All control system components (control board, motor controller and sensors) can be easily replaced in the field. And motor life is greatly extended due to reduced overall power and reduced parasitic power consumption.

Copyright © 2009 by ASME



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