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Posted: 3/10/2010 10:35:40 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/10/2010 11:12:36 AM EDT by JarheadChiro]
I've been doing some consulting work for these folks and thought some here might find their technology interesting.

Stirling Energy website

Link to video-very interesting.







Power of Innovation

The solar dish Stirling technology is well beyond the research and development phase, with more than 20 years of recorded operating history. The equipment is well characterized with over 50,000 hours of on-sun time. Since 1984, the Solar Dish Stirling equipment has held the world's efficiency record for converting solar energy into grid-quality electricity. This record was achieved when the technology was installed in Huntington Beach, California. SES coordinated with the U.S. Department of Energy and Sun-Labs (National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories) to conduct an endurance test of the solar dish Stirling system and to bring the technology to market.
SunCatcher™ Technology ::
How It Works

The SunCatcher™ is a 25-kilowatt-electrical (kWe) solar dish Stirling system which consists of a unique radial solar concentrator dish structure that supports an array of curved glass mirror facets, designed to automatically track the sun, collect and focus, that is, concentrate, its solar energy onto a patented Power Conversion Unit (PCU). The PCU is coupled with, and powered by, a completely re-engineered SES Stirling engine that generates power grid-quality electricity.



Power Conversion Unit (PCU)

The PCU converts the focused solar thermal energy into grid-quality electricity. The conversion process in the PCU involves a closed-cycle, high-efficiency four-cylinder, reciprocating Solar Stirling Engine utilizing an internal working fluid that is recycled through the engine. The Solar Stirling Engine operates with heat input from the sun that is focused by the SunCatcher’s™ dish assembly mirrors onto the PCU's solar receiver tubes which contain hydrogen gas. The PCU solar receiver is an external heat exchanger that absorbs the incoming solar thermal energy. This heats and pressurizes the gas in the heat exchanger tubing, and this gas in turn powers the Solar Stirling Engine.

A generator is connected to the Solar Stirling Engine; and produces the grid-quality electrical output of the SunCatcher™. Waste heat from the engine is transferred to the ambient air via a radiator system similar to those used in automobiles. The gas is cooled by a radiator system and is continually recycled within the engine during the power cycle. The conversion process does not consume water, as is required by most thermal-powered generating systems.
New Radial Dish Design

The SunCatcher™ uses an innovative radial design for its concentrating mirrors. At sunrise, each SunCatcher automatically rotates to face The Sun, and with sophisticated automation software, tracks, collects, and focuses the sun’s energy onto a single point, the Power Conversion Unit.
Link Posted: 3/10/2010 10:46:19 AM EDT
This would work well with an Infinity Turbine with it's organic rankine cycle .

I wish someone would build a small affordable unit for residential use .

Link Posted: 3/10/2010 10:47:19 AM EDT
How do the cost and efficiency compare to a solar panel array that big?
Link Posted: 3/10/2010 10:47:53 AM EDT
I have been kind of working on a residential version of this for a while now... only without the expensive sterling engine.

I would like to see these become an item that could be installed in a yard and offset or replace the grid in areas that get plenty of sun.
Link Posted: 3/10/2010 10:49:04 AM EDT
Isn't this the same type of technology that was used in "Spies like US."  
At the the old drive-in in the middle of the desert.
Link Posted: 3/10/2010 10:52:13 AM EDT
Sterling engines are pretty expensive, however the aussies have used a similar collector that powered a collumn of oil , that then was used to heat a steam turbine, and I guess it was quite effective.



I guess in the land down under, with enough similar collectors, you can melt steel.
Link Posted: 3/10/2010 10:52:14 AM EDT
Holy crap! I think that's exactly what they're building right next to my job site. I thought it was an antenna of some sort.
Link Posted: 3/10/2010 10:52:30 AM EDT




Originally Posted By TxBird:

Isn't this the same type of technology that was used in "Spies like US."

At the the old drive-in in the middle of the desert.


Or when we made hot dogs in cub scouts...



Link Posted: 3/10/2010 10:52:48 AM EDT
Originally Posted By JBlitzen:
How do the cost and efficiency compare to a solar panel array that big?


I think the answer is about $3 a Watt.

Is that what you were looking for?
Link Posted: 3/10/2010 10:54:22 AM EDT
Lots of work going on here on Solar Thermal (I work for the World Bank, in the Middle-East/North Africa department). Very cool stuff, and quite effective for most of our client countries (which tend to be rather... sunny).

-Mark
Link Posted: 3/10/2010 10:54:28 AM EDT
Definitely not a new idea at all. I hate to burst your bubble, but Stirling engines have been around since the early 1800s.







I'm pretty sure that it is by far the most efficient way we have right now to convert the heat from sunlight into electricity. The main problem with stirlings is that they must be MUCH larger than a steam or internal combustion engine. The working fluid is air, which is what separates it from it's mechanically similar cousin the steam engine. It wasn't practical for things like transportation because they are so damn big and require quite a while to spin up.
Link Posted: 3/10/2010 10:54:45 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/10/2010 10:55:37 AM EDT by JarheadChiro]
Originally Posted By bluefalcon:
Holy crap! I think that's exactly what they're building right next to my job site. I thought it was an antenna of some sort.


We're putting up quite a few all around Maricopa Co.

Link Posted: 3/10/2010 10:58:29 AM EDT
Originally Posted By RedDogSoldier:
Definitely not a new idea at all. I hate to burst your bubble, but Stirling engines have been around since the early 1800s.


I'm pretty sure that it is by far the most efficient way we have right now to convert the heat from sunlight into electricity. The main problem with stirlings is that they must be MUCH larger than a steam or internal combustion engine. The working fluid is air, which is what separates it from it's mechanically similar cousin the steam engine. It wasn't practical for things like transportation because they are so damn big and require quite a while to spin up.


Yea I realize that...

But not with computers that aim the thing precisely all day every day.

Store it at night, or aim it out of harms way in a storm.

Efficiency, capacity...

The whole package deal is what I'm talking about.
Link Posted: 3/10/2010 11:04:24 AM EDT



Originally Posted By JarheadChiro:



Originally Posted By RedDogSoldier:

Definitely not a new idea at all. I hate to burst your bubble, but Stirling engines have been around since the early 1800s.







I'm pretty sure that it is by far the most efficient way we have right now to convert the heat from sunlight into electricity. The main problem with stirlings is that they must be MUCH larger than a steam or internal combustion engine. The working fluid is air, which is what separates it from it's mechanically similar cousin the steam engine. It wasn't practical for things like transportation because they are so damn big and require quite a while to spin up.




Yea I realize that...



But not with computers that aim the thing precisely all day every day.



Store it at night, or aim it out of harms way in a storm.



Efficiency, capacity...



The whole package deal is what I'm talking about.


I get ya. Honestly, I'm shocked that nobody has done it before. Everyone is so hyped up about solar panels, but these bad boys are WAY more cost effective and a much more adaptable technology.

 



Say you put one of these in your backyard to power your house and the winter sunlight isn't doing anything for you. Just build a fire and point the dish at it! I understand that idea is way oversimplified, but I really like the idea of using the thermal differential to generate electricity. There are so many possibilities!
Link Posted: 3/10/2010 11:08:16 AM EDT
Originally Posted By RedDogSoldier:

Originally Posted By JarheadChiro:
Originally Posted By RedDogSoldier:
Definitely not a new idea at all. I hate to burst your bubble, but Stirling engines have been around since the early 1800s.


I'm pretty sure that it is by far the most efficient way we have right now to convert the heat from sunlight into electricity. The main problem with stirlings is that they must be MUCH larger than a steam or internal combustion engine. The working fluid is air, which is what separates it from it's mechanically similar cousin the steam engine. It wasn't practical for things like transportation because they are so damn big and require quite a while to spin up.


Yea I realize that...

But not with computers that aim the thing precisely all day every day.

Store it at night, or aim it out of harms way in a storm.

Efficiency, capacity...

The whole package deal is what I'm talking about.

I get ya. Honestly, I'm shocked that nobody has done it before. Everyone is so hyped up about solar panels, but these bad boys are WAY more cost effective and a much more adaptable technology.  

Say you put one of these in your backyard to power your house and the winter sunlight isn't doing anything for you. Just build a fire and point the dish at it! I understand that idea is way oversimplified, but I really like the idea of using the thermal differential to generate electricity. There are so many possibilities!




These guys tell me there has been SEVERE interference from lobbyist for, well guess who?

Hell, these things are so efficient that the guys tell me they can get a draw from moonlight!


Link Posted: 3/10/2010 11:10:39 AM EDT
Moolight !  
Link Posted: 3/10/2010 11:13:51 AM EDT



Originally Posted By JarheadChiro:



Originally Posted By RedDogSoldier:




Originally Posted By JarheadChiro:


Originally Posted By RedDogSoldier:

Definitely not a new idea at all. I hate to burst your bubble, but Stirling engines have been around since the early 1800s.







I'm pretty sure that it is by far the most efficient way we have right now to convert the heat from sunlight into electricity. The main problem with stirlings is that they must be MUCH larger than a steam or internal combustion engine. The working fluid is air, which is what separates it from it's mechanically similar cousin the steam engine. It wasn't practical for things like transportation because they are so damn big and require quite a while to spin up.




Yea I realize that...



But not with computers that aim the thing precisely all day every day.



Store it at night, or aim it out of harms way in a storm.



Efficiency, capacity...



The whole package deal is what I'm talking about.


I get ya. Honestly, I'm shocked that nobody has done it before. Everyone is so hyped up about solar panels, but these bad boys are WAY more cost effective and a much more adaptable technology.  



Say you put one of these in your backyard to power your house and the winter sunlight isn't doing anything for you. Just build a fire and point the dish at it! I understand that idea is way oversimplified, but I really like the idea of using the thermal differential to generate electricity. There are so many possibilities!

These guys tell me there has been SEVERE interference from lobbyist for, well guess who?



Hell, these things are so efficient that the guys tell me they can get a draw from moonlight!








Yep. These guys don't really want energy independence... they just want to talk about it. I mean, if they really saved the world, what could they campaign on?

 
Link Posted: 3/10/2010 11:20:57 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/10/2010 11:22:29 AM EDT by JarheadChiro]
Originally Posted By gdblair:
This would work well with an Infinity Turbine with it's organic rankine cycle .

I wish someone would build a small affordable unit for residential use .



I'm not sure that would be any more efficient per application.

The Sterling engine is a real performer for this application.

Residential units are in the works, roof mounted, etc.

Should see them in the next few years.

Link Posted: 3/10/2010 11:23:24 AM EDT
Solar power is OUR future. Wind, hydro, etc are no good.
Link Posted: 3/10/2010 11:23:52 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/10/2010 11:26:31 AM EDT by gdblair]
Originally Posted By JarheadChiro:
Originally Posted By gdblair:
This would work well with an Infinity Turbine with it's organic rankine cycle .

I wish someone would build a small affordable unit for residential use .



I'm not sure that would be any more efficient per application.

The Sterling engine is a real performer for this application.

Residential units are in the works, roof mounted, etc.

Should see them in the next few years.



Oh yeah , I agree , just swap out the turbine for the sterling . . .

ETA- I'm just smitten with the smooth quiet operation of the turbine . . .

Link Posted: 3/10/2010 11:24:29 AM EDT



Originally Posted By WS4LIF:


Solar power is OUR future. Wind, hydro, etc are no good.


If by "solar power" you mean "fusion" then you would be correct.




 
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