A Dish Stirling parabolic concentrator typically consists of a number of mirror facets that must be aligned to focus the concentrated sunlight on the engine receiver. An alignment strategy must be developed to deliver the energy uniformly to the receiver while maximizing system performance. Several criteria must be met in order to maximize the performance and lifetime of the system. The peak flux should be minimized at the receiver to extend life. This is accomplished by locally optimizing the mirror aimpoints, minimizing overlap of facet images. The energy delivered to each cylinder of a multi-cylinder engine should be balanced to maximize the power production capability of the engine. This is accomplished through globally optimizing the mirror aimpoints. Depending on dish geometry, both of these constraints will be met by moving the aimpoints of certain facets away from a single point at the center of the aperture. However, this often results in a larger aperture or more flux spillage. The larger aperture results in greater thermal and reflective losses from the receiver cavity. This paper proposes and demonstrates a novel approach to optimizing the alignment strategy while obeying these constraints. The method uses an approach similar to molecular dynamics to globally and locally distribute the power on the receiver, while imposing movement constraints at the aperture to limit the focal plane spot size. The method can also impose additional geometric constraints at the receiver plane to accommodate un-cooled surfaces. The method is explored and demonstrated on the Stirling Energy Systems 25kW dish Stirling system at Sandia National Laboratories. The approach provides a receiver flux distribution and power balance equal to the strategy developed by McDonnell Douglas in the early 1980’s, but with an aperture size equal to that of the single aimpoint strategy. This should result in about a 1kW increase in power generated at rated conditions, with no additional cost, due to reduced thermal losses from the receiver. The method can be extended to other point-focus concentrating solar technologies. On a tower, the heliostat aiming strategy could be dynamically updated to accommodate flux profile needs, sun position, or maintenance in the field.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.