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Current Technology and Issues:
  • Use Silver-Backed Mirrors
    • Many panes with complex connections​
  • Aluminum Mount
    • Various parts required for assembly​
    • Misplacing of parts is common
  • Double-walled heating tube
  • Sun tracking technology
Project Customer and Motivation
Direct Customer:
  • Nevada Solar One
  • Other Energy Generation Companies
Indirect Customer:
  • Department of Energy
The current glass-mirror on the parabolic trough is dead-weight on the structure, expensive to manufacture, complex to assemble, and sensitive to cracking during calibration.
Arconic is able to produce and supply large sheets of aluminum. These are perfect for designing a metallic mirror for a parabolic trough, possibly alleviating the issues caused by silver-backed glass mirrors.
Final Goals and Objectives
The scope of this project is to have a complete functional design that:
  • Has similar or improved effectiveness as current solution
    • Less deflection​
    • Greater precision
    • Larger surface area
  • 25%-50% reduction in solar field costs:
    • Material costs​
    • Amount of materials
  • Target cost of $175-265/m^2
Material Testing

experimental setup

experiment results

Our Design

early designs


modeled designs with fea results

final design:



less material

easier to assemble

low deflection

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