A European research project led by the Italian agency for new technologies (ENEA) has just produced the first solar concentrator which, thanks to a new air microturbine, can produce up to 15 kW of electricity. This breakthrough, which is based on the latest innovations in the solar energy and automotive sectors, has several advantages, among the fundamentals the possibility of storing the captured energy to transform it after sunset or in bad weather. cloudy.
With 12 meters in diameter, this solar concentrator, visible in Enea’s facilities in Casaccia, Rome, incorporates as many solar mirrors to fill an area of 88 square meters. The main novelty concerning the traditional antecedents is the addition to the system of a microturbine for which the models of the automotive industry have been followed.
Its role in a gear made up of the solar concentrator, a receiver and the turbine itself is none other than the expansion of the air circulating in the system, which the concentrator previously brings to a temperature between 800 and 900 degrees. Yes indeed, the microturbine turns the generator at a speed of 150,000 revolutions per minute, which achieves an output power of between 3 and 15 kW.
A key aspect of this proposal which, according to the assurance of ENEA, he can provide enough energy to cover the needs of 5 apartmentsis its modularity and ease of management. With that, they point out, this technology is open to homes, small businesses or businesses and, why not, schools; whether or not they are connected to the network.
Finding a suitable solution for this type of surfaces was the very essence with which this research project began, which sought to enable a pioneering system due to its combination of concentration of solar energy and the microturbine, which was at the right moment for its use. Small scale. “Profitable, efficient, reliable and easy to maintain” were other qualities in the sights of researchers, according to the official website of the project.
To ensure that all these points are respected, work on this solar disk is continuing. In fact, it will do so throughout 2018 when real world testing will be done to gauge its performance and optimize the system. In its development, funded by the European Union, among others, in addition to ENEA, Roma Tre University, City University of London, the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and the University of Seville have collaborated.