Parabolic Trough Concentrators

The simplest parabolic concentrating system is the parabolic trough concentrator. These systems are parabolic only in one dimension and form a long parabolic shaped trough as shown in figure 2. Although the trough arrangement is mechanically simpler than two-dimensional systems, which require more complex tracking systems, the concentrating factor is lower. Tracking systems are required in these systems to ensure that the maximum amount of sunlight enters the concentrating system.

Trough systems can either be orientated horizontally, in long rows, like the Luz system in California, or vertically, like the demonstration system in Canberra. Horizontally orientated systems are usually positioned in an east-west direction to reduce the amount of tracking required, and hence the cost. Alternatively, vertically mounted systems follow the motion of the sun throughout the day, by rotating the direction of the trough.

Parabolic Trough System
Figure 2 Schematic of a parabolic trough concentrator

Image adapted from Energy Efficiency Renewable Energy Network.

Solar Concentrator Parabolic
Figure 3 A trough concentrator system at the Australian National University, which is designed to incorporate photovoltaic power generation or water heating and steam production. (Image courtesy of the Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems, Australian National University.

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