The National Nuclear Security Administrations Sandia National Laboratories is joining forces with Stirling Energy Systems, Inc. (SES) of Phoenix to build and test six new solar dish-engine systems for electricity generation that will provide enough grid-ready solar electricity to power more than 40 homes.
Five new systems will be installed between now and January at Sandias National Solar Thermal Test Facility. They will join a prototype dish-Stirling system that was erected earlier this year, making a six-dish mini power plant producing up to 150kW of grid-ready electrical power during the day. "This will be the largest array of solar dish-Stirling systems in the world," says Chuck Andraka, the Sandia project leader. "Ultimately SES envisions 20,000 systems to be placed in one or more solar dish farms and providing electricity to southwest U.S. utility companies." Sandia and SES staff will work together over the next couple of months to assemble the five new state-of-the-art systems.
Each dish unit, which consists of 82 smaller mirrors formed in the shape of a dish, will be similar to the system installed earlier this year with some modifications to improve the design. The frame is steel made by Schuff Steel, also of Phoenix, while the mirrors, provided by Paneltec of Lafayette, Colo., are laminated onto a honeycomb aluminum structure invented and patented in the late 1990s by Sandia researcher Rich Diver (6218). The engine will be assembled at Sandias test facility using parts that were contracted out by SES.
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