Thursday, February 14, 2008

Enhanced Solar Energy Capture


Stirling Energy Systems, in collaboration with Sandia National Laboratories, has improved solar-to-grid system conversion efficiency to 31.25 percent, using enhanced optics and a more refined focusing system. Stirling has power purchase agreements in place with two Southern California utility companies and is ramping up to commercialize their SunCatcher system.

How does it work?

The solar dish generates electricity by focusing the Sun's rays onto a receiver, which transmits the heat energy to a Stirling engine.

The engine is a sealed system filled with hydrogen. As the gas heats and cools, its pressure rises and falls. The change in pressure drives the pistons inside the engine, producing mechanical power, which in turn drives a generator and makes electricity.

SES owns the dishes and the associated hardware at the Test Facility. Sandia provides technical and analytical support to SES in a relationship that dates back more than 10 years.

More details available through this release from the Environment News Service.