Alcoa, NREL Test All-Aluminum Parabolic Trough

Aluminum Parabolic

Photo: Alcoa

Alcoa has installed an all-aluminum concentrating solar parabolic trough at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL’s) test facility in Golden, Colo.

The lab will measure the collector’s thermal efficiency and evaluate its structural performance. This round of validation at NREL follows successful tests at the Alcoa Technical Center outside of Pittsburgh.

Instead of glass mirrors, the new 20-foot by 46-foot (6-meter by 14-meter) trough uses polished aluminum surfaces. The design is said to enable high-volume manufacturing and simple “drop-in-place” installation. The thin, rigid structure is said to mimic the spar-and-rib structure of an airplane wing.

The project is being partially funded by a $2.1 million Department of Energy grant. Test results are expected by the second quarter of 2010, after which the system will enter its next level of large-scale testing.

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