Highly-specular reflective surfaces that can withstand elevated-temperatures are desirable for many applications including reflective heat shielding in solar receivers and secondary reflectors, which can be used between primary concentrators and heat collectors. A high-efficiency, high-temperature solar receiver design based on arrays of cavities needs a highly-specular reflective surface on its front section to help sunlight penetrate into the absorber tubes for effective flux spreading. Since this application is for high-temperature solar receivers, this surface needs to be durable and to maintain its optical properties through the usable life. Degradation mechanisms associated with elevated temperatures and thermal cycling, which include cracking, delamination, corrosion/oxidation, and environmental effects, could cause the optical properties of surfaces to degrade rapidly in these conditions. Protected mirror surfaces for these applications have been tested by depositing a thin layer of SiO2 on top of electrodeposited silver by means of the sol-gel method. To obtain an effective thin film structure, this sol-gel procedure has been investigated extensively by varying process parameters that affect film porosity and thickness. Endurance tests have been performed in a furnace at 150°C for thousands of hours. This paper presents the sol-gel process for intermediate-temperature specular reflective coatings and provides the long-term reliability test results of sol-gel protected silver-coated surfaces.

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