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International Journal of Photoenergy
Volume 2016, Article ID 2758546, 8 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2016/2758546
Research Article

Construction and Testing of Lightweight and Low-Cost Pneumatically Inflated Solar Concentrators

1Instituto de Física, Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí, Avenida Manuel Nava 6, 78290 San Luis Potosí, SLP, Mexico
2Laboratorio Nacional de la Coordinación para la Innovación y la Aplicación de la Ciencia y la Tecnología, Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí, Sierra Leona 550, 78210 San Luis Potosí, SLP, Mexico
3Universidad Tecnológica de Querétaro, Avenida Pie de la Cuesta No. 2501, Unidad Nacional, 76148 Querétaro, QRO, Mexico

Received 28 August 2015; Revised 3 December 2015; Accepted 8 December 2015

Academic Editor: Wilfried G. J. H. M. Van Sark

Copyright © 2016 F. M. I. De Los Santos-García 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.

Abstract

Design, construction, and evaluation of a cylindrical-trough solar concentrator with 1.3 m aperture, 2.15 m length, and 0.54 m focal length, with heat-pipe or vacuum tube receiver and one axis tracking system, are presented. Design performance was tested under ASHRAE standard 93-1986 (RA 91). The concentrator system is lightweight and inexpensive since it was made of polymeric membranes and was pneumatically inflated to acquire its cylindrical shape achieving good optical quality. Further implementation of a flat and a cylindrical extension of the concentrating mirror as secondary mirrors was incorporated into the concentrator design in order to compensate for seasonal variations of collected radiation. Total initial investment of $163.30 or $58.5/m2 and efficiencies ranging from 33 to 25% for 25 up to 65°C show an excellent cost-performance ratio. Construction, costs, and efficiencies obtained by us and developed by other groups are compared to emphasize the high cost/benefit ratio and efficiencies of this approach.