Gossamer Space Frames has introduced two new concentrated solar power technologies that marry low tech components and off-the-shelf elements with high tech thin film solar panels to yield a system that costs less, can be installed more quickly, and collects solar energy more efficiently.
While much of the solar industry has focused on improving the efficiency of solar panels themselves, companies like Gossamer are demonstrating that the cost-effectiveness of a solar array also depends on the infrastructure that supports those panels. Gossamer uses a more sustainable, simple design approach to cut costs and improve efficiencies. The two new patent-pending technologies, SunLockand Minitruss, join Gossamer’s roster of solar array installation systems which also includes the patented Coaxial Joint System and patented Organic Connector.
Gossamer designed its SunLock center drive for concentrated solar trough arrays using cut galvanized steel plates instead of machine casted steel. Instead of complex gear systems that must be installed on site, it uses off-the-shelf hydraulics that can be readily procured from major suppliers such as Parker Hannifin. The Minitruss is a durable, low cost reflective panel that can be fitted with virtually any thin film solar material, which also helps streamline the procurement process and cut costs. The company is demonstrating the Minitruss technology using 3M’s Solar Mirror Film.
An earlier Gossamer patented product, the Organic Connector, is a mirror trough frame. More than 9,000 of them were used to construct the 64-megawatt Nevada Solar One concentrated solar installation. Compared to other conventional frames, they cost less to manufacture and assemble, mainly because of their more sustainable design approach. They use 30% less aluminum and require 35% fewer components to build, including 80% fewer fasteners. They also install much more quickly and achieved a greater focusing accuracy.