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Could Point Focus Fresnel Collector (PFFC) technology become viable for CSP?

Researchers at King Saud University (KSU) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) have developed, engineered, and built an innovative and low-cost system of concentrating solar collectors that is currently being tested at the KSU campus in Riyadh prior to commercialisation.

KSU's technology has already been endorsed by the DESERTEC foundation.

The PFFC concentrates the sun’s rays by the use of flat, square mirrors that are positioned on a rotating surface. This surface - and the specific way each row of mirrors is constructed - allow them to follow the sun as it moves through the sky and concentrates its heat on the same point throughout the day.

Professor Hany Al-Ansary, a KSU researcher and Chairman of the Mechanical Engineering Department in the College of Engineering at KSU, explained that several years ago, the Group set themselves the objective of designing a solar-thermal energy system that was cost-effective and entirely made within the region: "We focused on significantly reducing cost in comparison to available technologies through increasing efficiency and other measures. However, the PFFC has exceeded all our expectations. We managed to build it both at low cost and with parts ‘Made in KSA’. Of course, there is still a long way to go, but we are more than satisfied with the first prototype.”

What could give the technology a chance?

 

 

 

  • High conversion efficiency: Early tests have shown that a conversion efficiency of 70-75% can be achieved at a temperature of 400 °C, making the PFFC conversion-efficiency comparable to that of parabolic trough collectors.
  • Local content manufacturing: Components at the KSU-campus test facility are “Made in KSA” according to the design specifications of KSU researchers. All PFFC components can be manufactured in KSA. This technology could contribute to the national economy by localizing technology, engineering, and manufacturing of most, if not all, of the parts.
  • Modularity for installation and maintenance: The PFFC design is inherently modular. It can therefore be deployed in small-scale and large-scale industrial applications. This modularity also allows the system to be installed on rooftops, which means more efficient land use.
  • Efficient land use: The mirrors comprising the PFFC are packed closely, focusing sunlight on a central horizontal target, and resulting into the collector being more efficient than the existing CSP technologies.

 

 

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This article is featured in:
Solar electricity  •  World Future Energy Summit

 

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