Abstract

Structures manufactured from steel comprise up to 40% of a CSP heliostat's cost. Composite struc-tures represent a potential opportunity to reduce this cost. A reference heliostat structural model has been created with a reflector area of 25m2. The design, constructed of low-carbon steel, pro-vides baseline deflection and stiffness under a 21 m/s operating wind speeds. Wind loads on the tracker structure are determined for both operating and stow conditions. An established roster of suitable metal alternative materials is considered including: glass, basalt, and carbon reinforced polymer (GFRP, BFRP, and CFRP respectively). Three heliostat components are investigated: the pylon, torque tube, and the purlin-strut assembly. Composite material properties are substituted for those of steel, and the beams are re-sized to match the original steel components' deflection under given wind loads. Weight and cost changes resulting from this resizing are evaluated. It is found that GFRP and BFRP represent a 3X–6X cost premium for the same operating deflection character-istics as steel across all three investigated component classes; with weight reduction only achieved for the purlin-strut assembly. While CFRP components can achieve approximately 25–75% weight savings depending on the application, this comes with a 9X–14X cost increase over the steel base-line for tube-type structures and roughly 5X cost increase when replacing c-channel structures. This work does not rule out the possibility of cost savings when the heliostat design and kinematics to take advantage of composites' specific properties.

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