Parabolic Dish Solar Collectors: How They Operate

Solar technology is increasingly gaining popularity as it is having more users across the globe. That is primarily due to the benefits that come with its utilization. Solar power is a renewable source of electricity that is reliable and cost-effective in every aspect. Different interventions revolve around solar technology. Solar dish Stirling technology, for instance, is known for its efficiency in the conversation of solar energy into grid-quality electricity.

The history of solar dish Stirling technology traces back to about 20 years ago. When talking about solar dish Stirling technology, you will not miss out on a discussion about parabolic dish solar collectors. The question that arises from this is what parabolic dish solar collectors are and how they operate.

What Is A Parabolic Dish Solar Collector?

A parabolic dish solar collector can be described as a concentrating solar collector that comes in the shape and appearance similar to that of a satellite dish. The difference with the later comes in its form and features. A parabolic dish does have reflectors like mirrors and has an absorber at its focal point. That is a concentrating solar collector that works by reflecting and focusing the solar energy. It uses the mirror-like reflectors or lenses.

Some individuals will refer to it as a point focusing collector or simply a solar dish collector. That is a system that follows the sun across the sky and concentrates its rays onto the receiver. It does that with the use of a computer and the utilization of dual-axis tracking. The receiver is often mounted at the focal point in the dish’s front area.

How It Works

Parabolic dish systems are known for their efficiencies in the conversation of solar energy to electricity. That is with the fact that the systems can reach up to 1000 degrees Celsius at the receiver but still achieve high-efficiency conversion within a small power capacity range. Here is a step-by-step process of how it works.

  1. Sunlight is concentrated on a single point. The solar dish in a paraboloid shape collects incoming solar energy from the sun.
  2. The collected solar energy is then focused to a small focal point area that is positioned in front of the dish.
  3. The small mirror-like reflectors are used to concentrate the thermal energy to the heat absorber in the focal point area.

Power Conversion Unit (PCU)

The solar energy is then concentrated on the PCU to convert it to grid-quality electricity. The PCU solar receiver absorbs the incoming solar energy as it works as a heat exchanger. It is the combination of gas available here and the heat that is used to power an engine.

There is often a generator connected to the solar Stirling engine that is used to produce electricity.

Solar Concentrators

The solar concentrator forms the essential component of the solar heating system. The features possessed by the system contribute to their effectiveness. The mirror-like reflectors are installed all around it and concentrate the solar energy into the single focal point. It is at this point that the heat absorber is situated.

The mirrors do reflect a high percentage of sunlight, thus increasing the efficiency of the dish as compared to other collectors. The advantage of using mirrors is the fact that they are relatively cheap, easy to clean, and are durable. It is also easy to replace a damaged mirror individually without tampering with others.

It is essential to note that no water is used inside the receiver due to high temperatures at the focal point. The thermal fluid is used instead to transfer the intense heat generated.

Applications of Parabolic Dish Solar Collector

The parabolic dish solar collector can be used for various applications aside from the generation of electricity. It can, for instance, be used as a cooker. You can cover a small dish solar collector with aluminum as it serves as a cooker. Such kind of application does come in handy with outdoor activities such as camping.

It is, however, not recommended that you use such type of concentrating solar collectors for domestic hot water systems. For starters, parabolic dish solar collectors are enormous and don’t fit a domestic setting. Such kind of usage is also not cost-effective and do have very high operating temperatures. They are therefore recommended for industrial applications that do require a lot of energy.

Bottom line

Parabolic dish solar collector is the ideal energy absorption and power conversation system due to their high efficiency. Are you looking for a way to have reliable electricity for your industrial use? A parabolic dish solar collector is your ultimate device.

Written by M Eduard

M. Eduard was born and raised in San Francisco, CA. Eduard spent his MBA summer internship at Sungevity, a residential solar energy retail company in Oakland, CA. He started this website to share his knowledge about renewable energy.