K-Control is a kinematic mechanism that will allow concentrated solar power to become economically feasible for individual homes and communities by significantly reducing the cost and size of heliostat arrays.
Why is this invention needed?
If we were to design a large continuous mirror to reflect incident light onto a single point, we could use a parabolic dish. However, these only work if the dish is aimed at the light source. To provide power for a single home with one mirror, the dish would have to be huge. To provide power for communities and cities, many mirrors are required each with their own generator and pointing mechanism. However, if we have control over many small flat mirrors, we point each such that it is halfway between the source and a single focal point (the ‘collector’). This typically requires calculating the desired position of each mirror, and two motors to drive the mirror to the correct angle.
The equation governing the desired aim-point for flat mirrors is complex and unique for each mirror. The K-Control trick: our mechanism is a mechanical calculator that solves the positioning equations. It solves the equation for all ???? interconnected mirrors simultaneously – meaning it only needs four input motions regardless of how many mirrors are desired in the array.
K-control allows thousands of mirrors to be placed on a single rooftop, creating massive sunlight concentration (~500x). The high concentration greatly increases system efficiency. A small collector/generator use the concentrated sunlight in high quality PV cells made efficient by water cooling. (The coolant water is recirculated into the home water heating or radiant floor heating system.)
Plastic Kinematic controller and aluminum mirrors are much cheaper than the same area of PV cells, but collect the same amount of energy. The arrays are installed by arranging pre-assembled panels – the panels can be protected by a clear plate cover where debris and wind is a concern. Regardless of the number of interconnected arrays used, the system only require four control input motors, a single control computer, and a single collector.
Why is CSP better than panel Photo-Voltaic (PV)?
•Recovers both electrical and thermal energy to increase system effectiveness
•The single collector means lower cost, easier maintenance, higher quality generator, that can be upgraded with advancing generator technologies
•Concentrated light can do work earlier and later each day than PV
Why is the K-Control concept better than other forms of CSP?
•Very few motors can accurately control large arrays
•Allows miniaturization of the components
•Increased precision and accuracy
•Higher concentration capability (than larger mirrors arrays) at any installation scale
•Feasible at a scale from single homes to communities
•Low profile - easy to blend into architecture - no giant parabolic dishes
•Higher concentration than troughs = more active generation time each day
•Lightweight array can be installed on roof-tops and even on vehicles such as within the (clear) wing of a solar plane
•Interlocking panels all use one controller – cost/watt decreases with scale