It allows 55% cost savings and a 40% CO2 reduction compared to the best future parabolic trough technologies
The Austrian company HELIOVIS AG has developed HELIOtube, an inflatable solar collector that is considered to be cheaper (by 55%) and less resource and energy intensive in comparison to conventional technologies (parabolic troughs, Towers, Linear Fresnels, Parabolic Dishes). Another benefit is that is has a lower carbon footprint, as it achieves a 40% CO2 reduction compared to the best future parabolic trough technologies.
This concentrated solar power plant (CSP) is made of commercially available recyclable plastic films (instead of the current steel-and-glass based technologies) and in full scale is 220m long and 9m in diameter. Yet, it can be transported while rolled in a standard container (simple logistics) and be inflated at the site designated for the power plant, offering significant competitive advantages in terms of required materials and production, logistics, and installation costs. Another competitive advantage it has is that when it comes to larger dimensions, conventional systems face difficulties on construction design and stability. On the contrary, the larger the HELIOtubeâ€™s diameter, the smaller the pressure that is required to stretch the films and the more stable the entire construction design becomes.
How it works
The HELIOtube is aligned from North to South and tracks the sun one-dimensionally from East to West. It is equipped with a mirror film that divides the cylinder into two air-tight chambers running lengthwise through the tube. There is a small pressure difference between the top and bottom chambers that arches the mirror film downward, so a mirror channel is created. There, the incident solar radiation is concentrated onto a focus line in the upper chamber and heats the thermal receiver fluid to a temperature of 400 to 600Â° C, enough to provide steam to turbines for electricity generation.
Currently, HELIOVIS AG is collaborating with the German company MachtWissen in order to design, deploy and run a large scale pilot in Spain, before the product is ready for commercialization. In-field test of transport and installation logistic operations will also be run. HELIOtube will span 2 years with a budget of 2.5 million euro, out of which 1.8 million will be funded by EUâ€™s HORIZON 2020 program.