CompoSol PTC

Working in the renewable energy sector, epm: technology was tasked with developing a new Parabolic Trough Collector (PTC)

Opportunity

The project outlined the need to use Formula 1 technology in the renewable energy sector, funded by the EU and supported by Materials KTN.

The aim was to develop a lightweight, corrosion resistant, stiff composite and dimensionally stable Parabolic Trough Collector (PTC) with a durable reflective surface. A durable lightweight structure can be produced in a factory. By using advanced engineering technology, we can produce better components which will be more efficient in their working environment.

Challenges

Conventional PTCs are made of steel, making them heavy to transport to remote locations, as well as susceptible to corrosion and degradation. They also need to maintain a high stiffness, complex and explosive backing structures that have to be welded on site during construction.

In addition to this, on-site installation is expensive and inefficient, providing further cause to introduce a more cost effective practice.

Solution

By using the advantages of a carbon epoxy sandwich structure, the stiffness can be incorporated during the manufacturing process. These larger products required less support structures, helping to reduce investment costs for transportation and on site installation.

This new composite PTC resulted in dramatically reduced upfront investment costs due to the less on-site work and a quicker, more effective installation time.

Outcomes

As the new PTC was constructed from carbon fibre composite components, it is far lighter than it’s steel predecessor, thus requiring less energy to tilt to match the sunlight through the course of a day.

Applying our know how to new sectors is always an interesting process for a high performance engineering business such as ourselves. We would like to see this know how applied in more construction and environmentally sensitive projects, particularly as well engineered composite components have huge benefits in industry.