High powered solar simulator for solar thermal testing
Alfred University (US)
Alfred University has committed to producing a world-class solar simulation testing facility.
Sciencetech has previously supplied solar equipment to their research facilities, but for this project, Alfred wanted something truly unique and custom manufactured.
The initial design called for an enormous amount of solar radiation to be focused onto a small spot, creating what is usually called a “spot furnace”. While Sciencetech has some experience running individually powerful lamps for solar simulator designs, this conflux of light was a novel application. The end user required to have almost 4000 suns at a target area of 10cm
Ideation and designing the system
Sciencetech used our in-house optical and mechanical design teams to conceive a proto type for the high powered solar simulator. The prototype would couple the power of 4 independently aligned and focused 6.5kW arc lamps into a single 10cm spot. The entire device, from the physical enclosure to the forced air cooling of the lamps was designed in house and from the ground up adhering to Alfred’s strict technical requirements.
Prototype Design Implementation
Shortly after having the preliminary theoretical work approved by Alfred, Sciencetech began manufacturing the prototype unit. Each of the four individual 6.5kW arc lamp housing and reflectors needed to be built, and custom focusing mirrors sourced and tested.
Correspondingly, one of the first hurdles that needed to be overcome was the electrical power capabilities of the Sciencetech facility: in order to run four 6.5kW arc lamps simultaneously, new power lines needed to be installed. While this was happening, Sciencetech ran tests with only 1 of the four lamps ignited at a time.
Additionally, custom filters capable of handling the enormous amount of power of each lamp needed to be designed. Sciencetech has years of experience with the design of these sorts of filters, but even so, it took several failed heat-stress tests before a viable filter was completed.
Testing and Installation
With almost 10 kW of optical power on the target, this extremely high powered solar simulator was able to melt a metal screw within 30 seconds with only 20% of its power. Watch the video here.
The finalized system, (with the internal components exposed: usually an enclosure shields the inner workings from researchers to reduce risk while operating the powerful system), has been delivered and installed at Alfred University, and they have started to achieve considerable experimental success with the device. The project was completed well within the allocated time frame and within the customer’s budget, and their satisfaction and gratitude sent to Sciencetech for this project.
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