Research and Development Needs

The introduction of a commercial solar engine is the primary research and development (R&D) need for dish/engin e technology. Secondary R&D needs include a commercially viable heat-pipe solar receiver for dish/Stirling, a hybrid -receiver design for dish/Stirling, and a proven receiver for dish/Brayton. All three of these issues are currently bein g addressed by SunLab and its partners, as part of the DOE Solar Thermal Electric Program. In addition, improvemen t in dish concentrator components, specifically drives, optical elements, and structures, are still needed and are also being addressed, albeit at a low level of effort. The solar components are the high cost elements of a dish engine system, and improved designs, materials, characterization, and manufacturing techniques are key to improving competitiveness .

Systems integration and product development are issues for any new product. For example, even though MD A successfully resolved many issues for their system, their methods may not apply or may not be available to othe r designs. Issues such as installation logistics, control algorithms, facet manufacturing, mirror characterization, an d alignment methods, although relatively pedestrian, still need resolution for any design. Furthermore, if not addresse d correctly, they can adversely affect cost. An important function of the Joint Ventures between SunLab and industr y is to address these issues.

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