Analysis of tracking error effects for the Fresnel mirror solar concentrator

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Zhan, Yong
Cosby, Ronald M.
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Thesis (M.S.)
Department of Physics and Astronomy
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The solar concentration performance of a tracking, flat-base, line-focusing Fresnel mirror was investigated in this study. The Fresnel mirror consists of flat mirror strips situated on a base and oriented at appropriate angles to focus incident light to a desired line. Simple optical ray tracing and energy conservation were used to develop a mathematical model of the concentrator assuming small or zero diurnal tracking errors. The model analyzed the concentrator design and provided detailed expressions for the geometric evaluation of the concentrated sunlight rays in the focal plane above the mirror. The local concentration ratio and the geometric concentration ratio were introduced to describe the intensity profile in the focal plane and the average concentration of sunlight on a target absorber. Included in the model were losses of incident sunlight due to imperfect reflection, nonreflecting portions of the base, and blockage by adjacent mirror strips when imperfect tracking occurs.Based on the analytical model and using the Ada high level language, a computer program was written to simulate the concentrator. To facilitate performance comparisons, a baseline concentrator design was adopted. To study the effects of imperfect tracking, performance data were generated for small tracking errors up to approximately two and one-half degrees. The effects of design variations were studied by varying the concentrator focal length, strip width, and base width.Simulation results demonstrated that the concentration characteristics were highly sensitive to tracking error. Intensity profile shifts relative to the target caused the highest losses in intercepted sunlight.Design decisions were found to dramatically affect the concentration character- istics. For the baseline concentrator under perfect tracking conditions, an optimum focal length was identified. Except for the disadvantage of added costs, decreased strip widths was found to be a way to increase both the maximum and average concentration ratio for the absorber. Using smaller strip widths might, however, critically affect the energy intercepted by the target under imperfect tracking. Increasing the concentrator base width increased the total amount of power in the focal plane, with a higher maximum concentration ratio and additional tailing of the intensity profile.