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Solar Concentrator Structural Optimization: A Variable Beam Cross Section Design

[+] Author Affiliations
Moucun Yang, Yuezhao Zhu, Wei Fu

Nanjing Tech University, Nanjing, China

Garth Pearce, Robert A. Taylor

University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

Paper No. HT2017-5082, pp. V001T09A012; 8 pages
  • ASME 2017 Heat Transfer Summer Conference
  • Volume 1: Aerospace Heat Transfer; Computational Heat Transfer; Education; Environmental Heat Transfer; Fire and Combustion Systems; Gas Turbine Heat Transfer; Heat Transfer in Electronic Equipment; Heat Transfer in Energy Systems
  • Bellevue, Washington, USA, July 9–12, 2017
  • Conference Sponsors: Heat Transfer Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5788-5
  • Copyright © 2017 by ASME


The design and construction of solar concentrators heavily affects their cost, heat utilization and optical efficiency. Current trough concentrators support the reflector with an equivalent uniform beam configured from a metal grid sub-structure. Under gravity and wind loads, the support-structure stress distribution varies as a function of position of the structure and the tracking angle. In the conventional design, there is ample surplus stiffness and strength designed into some beams of the structure, which increases the overall weight and cost of the structure. This paper describes an approach towards structural optimization of trough concentrators (with the Eurotrough design taken as an example, that means that the safety factors and structure is similar with Eurotrough design) using a variable cross section beam. The main improvement of this approach comes from keeping the beams rigid and strong near the two ends (at the torque box structure) while allowing the middle of the structure to be relatively weak. Reducing the cross-sectional area of the central beams not only reduces amount of material needed for the structure but also reduces the deflection of the reflector. The simulated results show that the concentrator’s structural weight (including the torque box, endplates and cantilever arms) and the maximum displacement of the reflector are reduced about 15.3% (about 151.2kg per 12-metre long element) and 15.5%, respectively. This represents a meaningful capital and installation cost savings while at the same time improving the optical efficiency.

Copyright © 2017 by ASME



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