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Proceedings Paper

Photoresponsive polymer design for solar concentrator self-steering heliostats
Author(s): Jessica Barker; Amod Basnet; Moinak Bhaduri; Caroline Burch; Amenda Chow; Xue Li; William S. Oates; Jordan E. Massad; Ralph Smith
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Paper Abstract

Concentrating solar energy and transforming it into electricity is clean, economical and renewable. One design of solar power plants consists of an array of heliostats which redirects sunlight to a fixed receiver tower and the generated heat is converted into electricity. Currently, the angles of elevation of heliostats are controlled by motors and drives that are costly and require diverting power that can otherwise be used for producing electricity. We consider replacing the motor and drive system of the heliostat with a photosensitive polymer design that can tilt the mirror using the ability of the polymer to deform when subjected to light. The light causes the underlying molecular structure to change and subsequently, the polymer deforms. The deformation of the polymer is quantified in terms of photostrictive constitutive relations. A mathematical model is derived governing the behaviour of the angle of elevation as the photostrain varies. Photostrain depends on the composition of the polymer, intensity and temperature of light and angle of light polarization. Preliminary findings show a photomechanical rod structural design can provide 60° elevation for temperatures of about 40°C. A photomechanical beam structural design can generate more tilt at lower temperatures. The mathematical analysis illustrates that photostrains on the order of 1% to 10% are desired for both rod and beam designs to produce sufficient tilt under most heliostat field conditions.

Paper Details

Date Published: 9 March 2014
PDF: 14 pages
Proc. SPIE 9057, Active and Passive Smart Structures and Integrated Systems 2014, 90572L (9 March 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2045964
Show Author Affiliations
Jessica Barker, Univ. of Massachusetts Lowell (United States)
Amod Basnet, Univ. of North Carolina at Charlotte (United States)
Moinak Bhaduri, Univ. of Nevada, Las Vegas (United States)
Caroline Burch, Clemson Univ. (United States)
Amenda Chow, Univ. of Waterloo (Canada)
Xue Li, The Univ. of Texas at Dallas (United States)
William S. Oates, The Florida State Univ. (United States)
Jordan E. Massad, Sandia National Labs. (United States)
Ralph Smith, North Carolina State Univ. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9057:
Active and Passive Smart Structures and Integrated Systems 2014
Wei-Hsin Liao, Editor(s)

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