A solar thermal cooling system using novel nontracking external compound parabolic concentrators (XCPC) has been built at the University of California, Merced and operated for two cooling seasons. Its performance in providing power for space cooling has been analyzed. This solar cooling system is comprised of 53.3 m2 of XCPC trough collectors which are used to power a 23 kW double effect (LiBr) absorption chiller. This is the first system that combines both XCPC and absorption chilling technologies. Performance of the system was measured in both sunny and cloudy conditions, with both clean and dirty collectors. It took, on average, about 2 h for the collector system to reach operating temperatures between 160 and 180 °C. When operated in this temperature range, the XCPC collector array collected solar energy with an average daily efficiency of 36.7% and reached instantaneous efficiencies up to 40%. The thermal coefficient of performance (COP) of the system (including thermal losses and COP of absorption chiller) averaged at 0.99 and the daily solar COP of the entire system averaged at 0.363. It was found that these collectors are well suited at providing thermal power to drive absorption cooling systems and that both the coinciding of available thermal power with cooling demand and the simplicity of the XCPC collectors compared to other solar thermal collectors makes them a highly attractive candidate for cooling projects. Consequently, the XCPC technology is currently being commercialized in the U.S. and India. The XCPC's numerous potential applications include solar heating, cooling, desalination, oil extraction, electricity generation, and food processing.

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