Table of Contents
Conference Papers in Energy
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 395659, 7 pages
Conference Paper

Caustics as an Alternate of Ray Tracing to Evaluate Heliostat Mirrors

1Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801, USA
2Energy Environment and Water Research Center, The Cyprus Institute, 2121 Nicosia, Cyprus
3The Cyprus Institute, 2121 Nicosia, Cyprus

Received 3 December 2012; Accepted 4 February 2013

Academic Editors: Y. Al-Assaf, P. Demokritou, A. Poullikkas, and C. Sourkounis

This Conference Paper is based on a presentation given by Aristides M. Bonanos at “Power Options for the Eastern Mediterranean Region” held from 19 November 2012 to 21 November 2012 in Limassol, Cyprus.

Copyright © 2013 Marios D. Georgiou et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Solar thermal power generation is based on the concept of concentrating solar radiation to provide high temperature heat for electricity generation via conventional power cycles. The high relative cost of optical subsystems necessitates a careful study of their components. The capital cost of the heliostat field in central receiver power plants is significant, reaching up to 50% of the capital investment. Therefore, it is essential to maximize the energy yield from a heliostat with a given mirror area. Solar collector fields are typically modeled by ray-tracing or convolution methods; however, no general method is available for engineering analysis. We propose the use of caustics to predict the image of the sun reflected by an arbitrary mirror of focal length and aperture on a target. The method of caustics was validated against SolTRACE, a ray-tracing code developed by the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).