Motion-Free Tracking Solar Concentrator
U.S. Pat. 6,958,868
Goldstream Solar has designed, prototyped and patented (USPTO or pdf) a completely stationary, non-mechanical device which concentrates solar radiation onto a target while tracking the motion of the Sun. Our tracking solar concentrator uses liquid crystal beam steering technology in thin panels combined with a focusing element. We have taken the technology away from small-area devices designed for high-speed switching of polarized lasers and adapted it to large-area devices designed to steer unpolarized, broad-spectrum light from the Sun with very modest speed requirements.
It has always been true that a flat solar photovoltaic (PV) panel will collect more photons per day if it is mounted to a mechanical tracking device which keeps the panel pointed at the Sun. Nevertheless, the rooftop market for flat PV panels has been dominated for decades by stationary panels. Most customers - especially residential customers - want a simpler, less expensive installation, prefer the low-profile looks, and want to avoid the maintenance issues typical of any mechanical system. Our stationary tracking solar concentrator has exactly these same advantages over mechanical tracking systems for the rooftop market not only for generating electricity but for fiberoptic daylighting as well.
This work is generously supported by a second SBIR award from the National Science Foundation.
Advantages of the Motion-Free Tracking Solar Concentrator
- Light weight and millimeters thin
- Low operating voltage and negligible power consumption
- Completely motion-free and maintenance-free
- Simple and inexpensive installation
- Transmissive and reflective geometries
Applications include solar photovoltaic power, solar thermal power, solar thermo-electrochemical power, residential and commercial fiberoptic daylighting, and light distribution for algae-to-oil facilities.