Alcoa, a Pittsburgh-headquartered producer of primary aluminum, fabricated aluminum and alumina, has begun jointly testing an advanced solar technology with the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
The goal of the research is to make concentrating solar power (CSP) technology competitive in the U.S. by lowering its cost to generate energy. NREL and Alcoa recently installed a new Alcoa-designed CSP parabolic trough at NREL's test facility in Golden, Colo. The series of tests will measure the 20-foot by 46-foot collector's efficiency to generate energy and evaluate its structural performance. This round of validation at NREL follows successful tests at Alcoa Technical Center outside of Pittsburgh.
Instead of glass mirrors, the new Alcoa product uses highly reflective aluminum mirrors, which are more durable and environmentally friendly than fragile, glass-based mirrors, according to the company. The Alcoa design solution enables high-volume manufacturing techniques to lower installation costs. Its monolithic structure enables a simple drop-in-place collector for easy installation, Alcoa adds. The design includes sheet, extrusions and fasteners.