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Construction and Testing of Lightweight and Low-Cost Pneumatically Inflated Solar Concentrators
Design, construction, and evaluation of a cylindrical-trough solar concentrator with 1.3m aperture, 2.15m length, and 0.54m focal length, with heat-pipe or vacuum tube receiver and one axis tracking system, are presented. Design performance was tested under ASHRAE standard 93-1986 (RA 91). The concentrator system is lightweight and inexpensive since it was made of polymeric membranes and was pneumatically inflated to acquire its cylindrical shape achieving good optical quality. Further implementation of a flat and a cylindrical extension of the concentrating mirror as secondary mirrors was incorporated into the concentrator design in order to compensate for seasonal variations of collected radiation. Total initial investment of $163.30 or $58.5/m2 and efficiencies ranging from 33 to 25%for 25 up to 65°C show an excellent cost-performance ratio. Construction, costs, and efficiencies obtained by us and developed by other groups are compared to emphasize the high cost/benefit ratio and efficiencies of this approach.
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