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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Brayton Cycle Solar Thermal power under development by CSIRO

Image: CSIRO

The CSIRO has begun installing 450 large heliostats (mirrors) for a Brayton Cycle solar thermal tower system, the largest of it type in the world, located at the CSIRO National Solar Energy Centre in Newcastle.

The mirrors are manufactured locally at Wyong on the Central Coast by Performance Engineering, a company specialising in automotive manufacturing. The panels are manufactured with a lightweight steel frame with a simple design highly suited for mass production for commercialisation of the technology.

Performance Engineering’s Managing Director, Jon Priddle, said. “We are using our expertise in automotive manufacturing – an industry geared for mass production – to create the most efficient manufacturing process. In addition, we are using a laser tracker developed for the aerospace industry to measure the accuracy of the heliostats. Accuracy and efficiency are the key outcomes for our production line.”

The mirrors will cover about 4000 square metres and will concentrate the sun's energy to create temperatures up to 1000°C on the 30 metre central tower. The high temperatures produced will power a 200kw Brayton cycle turbine which uses compressed air rather than water, making the technology highly suited for arid and desert environments where water is scarce.

Dr Alex Wonhas CSIRO’s Energy Transformed Flagship Director said "It’s a local idea generated by CSIRO and manufactured by a local company, which will have global impact. We hope that one day we will see these economical heliostats used in solar fields all over Australia and the world.”

The Solar Thermal power tower is expected to be in operation in March 2011.

More Information

* Takver, April 2010 - New Solar Power station to run on sun and air say CSIRO scientists
* CSIRO media release, Oct 26, 2010 - Sunny future for Australia's solar industry

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