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Solar

Accelerated Exposure Testing of Advanced Reflective Material for Concentrating Solar Power

Company Name: Sundog Solar Technology
Program Office:  Solar
Location: Arvada, CO
Website: N/A
Email: Randy Gee; randycgee@comcast.net
Award Amount: $62,500
Project Term: 12 months
Project Status: Active
Participating Lab(s): National Renewable Energy Laboratory

CRITICAL NEED

Reduction in field costs for concentrating solar power (CSP) is a critical component in reaching the Department of Energy's (DOE) SunShot Initiative goal of making solar electricity market-competitive with conventionally generated electricity by 2020, without subsidies. 

Solar field costs may be lowered by such strategies as improving the reflectance of the solar collectors, reducing the weight of the reflectors (which also allows for a more lightweight support structure), or increasing reflector performance in terms of durability or cleaning requirements.

Through DOE's SunShot Incubator Program, Sundog Solar Technology (SST) has developed a reflective material with high solar reflectivity and superior mechanical properties. Although SST met all of the stretch goals of the incubator project, the material did not undergo any lifetime performance evaluation through accelerated exposure testing. A lifetime performance assessment is necessary to bring the material to market and attract industry clients.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)'s Ultra-Accelerated Exposure System (UAWS) has a unique capability to assess the long-term performance of SST material. The UAWS filters and concentrates natural solar irradiance to expose samples at 100x with ultraviolet irradiance (300 – 500 nanometers). This SBV Pilot will allow SST to demonstrate lifetime material performance, and remove the last barrier to commercialization.


PROJECT INNOVATION + ADVANTAGES

Glass reflectors are currently the dominant collector technology in CSP fields. However, glass reflectors are relatively expensive, heavy, and fragile, and require frequent cleaning to maintain reflectance.

SST has developed a polymeric reflector material with high solar reflectance and specularity, excellent anti-soiling properties, superior abrasion resistance, and increased cleanability. In addition to superior optical and mechanical performance, the material is lightweight and can be produced through low-cost, roll-to-roll manufacturing techniques suitable for high-volume production. In addition to lowering initial installation costs, SST projects that its material will require less upkeep, in terms of cleaning or replacement, throughout its lifetime, resulting in further reduced field costs.


POTENTIAL IMPACT

Accelerated exposure data at NREL will provide the one missing piece of information that prevents the commercialization of SST's advanced reflector material. Armed with demonstrated lifetime performance of its material, SST will be able to attract industry partners and deploy its technology in solar fields across the United States.

Compared to glass reflectors, which may carry a commercial cost upwards of $30 per square meter, the SST advanced reflector has a cost of approximately $10 per square meter. By reducing solar field costs, SST's technology will help the U.S. energy industry reach DOE's SunShot goals.


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