A new method is described to determine irradiance distributions on receivers and targets from heliostats or other collectors for concentrating solar power applications. The method uses a digital camera, and, unlike previous beam characterization systems, it does not require additional sensors, calorimeters, or flux gauges on the receiver or target. In addition, spillage can exist and can also be measured (the beam does not need to be contained within the target). The only additional information required besides the images recorded from the digital camera is the direct normal irradiance and the reflectivity of the receiver. Methods are described to calculate either an average reflectivity or a reflectivity distribution for the receiver using the digital camera. The novel feature of this new photographic flux (PHLUX) mapping method is the use of recorded images of the sun to scale both the magnitude of each pixel value and the subtended angle of each pixel. A test was performed to evaluate the PHLUX method using a heliostat beam on the central receiver tower at the National Solar Thermal Test Facility in Albuquerque, NM. Results showed that the PHLUX method was capable of producing an accurate flux map of the heliostat beam on a Lambertian surface with a relative error in the peak flux of ∼2% when the filter attenuation factors and effective receiver reflectivity were well characterized. Total relative errors associated with the measured irradiance using the PHLUX method can be up to 20%–40%, depending on various error sources identified in the paper, namely, uncertainty in receiver reflectivity and filter attenuation.

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