ReflecTech Mirror Film is used in place of glass mirrors to lower the cost of SkyFuel's parabolic trough solar collector. Testing at NREL confirms that ReflecTech maintains its high reflectance for 25 years' equivalent UV exposure, the expected lifetime of a solar power plant.
ReflecTech Mirror Film is used in place of fragile glass mirrors to lower the cost of SkyFuel's parabolic trough concentrating solar collector. In the solar thermal plants where these collectors are installed, the reflectors are expected to last for 25 years. Parabolic trough technology itself is considered mature, having been in commercial operation in the Solar Energy Generating Stations (SEGS) of California's Mojave Desert since 1985. Testing at the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) confirms that ReflecTech film maintains its high reflectance for 25 years' equivalent ultraviolet exposure.
"Achieving the 25 year milestone for the optical durability of ReflecTech gives us the confidence to offer a best-in-class warranty on the film, and removes risk for financial backers of solar plants using the SkyTrough," noted Kelly Beninga, SkyFuel's Chief Commercial Officer. "Our customers in China and India will find it easier to get the funding they need to develop their projects."
The scientific achievement is a feather in the cap of NREL, and reflects well on the US Department of Energy's research objectives. Randy Gee, SkyFuel's Chief Technology Officer and a coinventor of ReflecTech, noted, "NREL has been instrumental in our effort to engineer a durable mirror film. We made a number of improvements to ReflecTech during the development process, guided by accelerated weathering data from NREL." The 25 year equivalent exposure test was performed in NREL's Ultraviolet Accelerated Weathering System (UAWS), the operation of which is described in a white paper.
Development of a robust and low cost mirror film, as a key means of reducing the cost of concentrating solar power, has long been a goal of the US Department of Energy (DOE). The SkyTrough is the first to use ReflecTech® Mirror Film, with the result of 20-30% cost reduction compared to competing parabolic troughs. ReflecTech is often cited as a model of technology transfer from publicly funded research to private industry.
SkyFuel manufactures the SkyTrough parabolic trough concentrating solar collector - a breakthrough in cost and constructability resulting from significant design and material innovations. SkyFuel's wholly owned subsidiary, ReflecTech, Inc., holds the exclusive license to manufacture and market ReflecTech® Mirror Film. SkyFuel is developing next-generation, high-temperature parabolic trough and linear Fresnel systems.