About the project
Solar power is a major component of the drive towards a ''CO2-free power'' generation. Today, photovoltaics are probably the most important technology in this field. ''Solar thermal'' power has comparatively high costs due to the complexity of the installations.
'Parabolic mirrors, or “solar dishes”, have been built to concentrate solar energy into the focal point of the mirror where a Stirling engine generates electric power from the heat. This technology is fairly well developed, but each mirror requires a Stirling engine, which must move with it. The disadvantages of this include:
- a complex installation process
- no possibility for heat storage
- increased costs
In Southampton, we developed a variation of the solar dish whereby the light's line of sight is lined up, or 'collimated', by a second smaller mirror, and transmitted through a central hole in the main mirror. Here, the light beam is diverted by a plane mirror towards a receiver. Initial tests shows the validity of the concept.
In this PhD project you will further develop the concentrating mirror system. Using tests, computer simulations and experiments, you will help:
- determine actual performance, using laser beams and sunlight
- assess power transmission through a light beam
- develop a receiver or storage unit which is currently assumed to be a "black box" type arrangement
- analyse power generation with a central Stirling engine
The project will result in a novel high temperature concentrating solar power system with a sun-to-wire efficiency significantly higher than that of a photovoltaic (PV) installation.