Refractive Secondary Concentrators for Solar Thermal Applications 1999-01-2678
The NASA Glenn Research Center is developing technologies that utilize solar energy for various space applications including electrical power conversion, thermal propulsion, and furnaces. Common to all of these applications is the need for highly efficient, solar concentration systems. An effort is underway to develop the innovative single crystal refractive secondary concentrator, which uses refraction and total internal reflection to efficiently concentrate and direct solar energy. The refractive secondary offers very high throughput efficiencies (> 90%), and when used in combination with advanced primary concentrators, enables very high concentration ratios (10,000 to 1) and very high temperatures (> 2000 K).
Presented is an overview of the refractive secondary concentrator development effort at the NASA Glenn Research Center, including optical design and analysis techniques, thermal modeling capabilities, crystal materials characterization testing, optical coatings evaluation, and component testing. Also presented is a discussion of potential future activity and technical issues yet to be resolved. Much of the work performed to date has been in support of the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center's Solar Thermal Propulsion Program. The many benefits of a refractive secondary concentrator that enable efficient, high temperature thermal propulsion system designs, apply equally well to other solar applications including furnaces and power generation systems such as solar dynamics (i.e. Brayton, Stirling), concentrated thermal photovoltaics, and thermionics.