Dish concentrators can produce highly concentrated flux for the operation of an engine, a chemical process, or other energy converter. The high concentration allows a small aperture to control thermal losses, and permits high temperature processes at the focal point. A variety of optical errors can influence the flux pattern both at the aperture and at the absorber surface. Impacts of these errors can be lost energy (intercept losses), aperture compromise (increased size to accommodate flux), high peak fluxes (leading to part failure or life reduction), and improperly positioned flux also leading to component failure. Optical errors can include small scale facet errors (“waviness”), facet shape errors, alignment (facet pointing) errors, structural deflections, and tracking errors. The errors may be random in nature, or may be systematic. The various sources of errors are often combined in a “root-mean-squared” process to present a single number as an “error budget”. However, this approach ignores the fact that various errors can influence the performance in different ways, and can mislead the designer, leading to component damage in a system or poor system performance. In this paper, we model a hypothetical radial gore dish system using Sandia’s CIRCE2 optical code. We evaluate the peak flux and incident power through the aperture and onto various parts of the receiver cavity. We explore the impact of different error sources on the character of the flux pattern, and demonstrate the limitations of lumping all of the errors into a single error budget.

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