Solar fiber-optic mini-dishes: a new approach to the efficient collection of sunlight Academic Article uri icon


  • Abstract A new concept for efficient solar energy concentration and power delivery is proposed — one that offers substantial advantages in efficiency, compactness, reduced mechanical loads, and ease of fabrication and installation relative to conventional solar designs. The design exploits the availability of low-attenuation optical fibers, as well as the practical advantages of mass producing highly accurate very small parabolic dishes. The system's building block is a miniature (e.g. 0.2 m diameter) solar dish which concentrates sunlight into a single optical fiber. The fiber transports power to a remote receiver. A second-stage concentrator can boost flux levels to those approaching the thermodynamic limit and can be performed either in each individual dish or collectively in one or more larger devices at the entrance to the remote receiver. Collector modules, close-packed with mini-dishes, are mounted on individual trackers close to the ground. Systems are modular and can be employed in central power generation ranging from a few kilowatts to tens of megawatts. Designs for maximum efficiency attaining collection efficiencies as high as 80%, and maximum-concentration designs realizing flux levels of 30 000 suns, are achievable.

publication date

  • January 1, 1999