Efficient Conversion of Solar Fulx into Rural Energy Sources
Award last edited on: 4/18/2007

Sponsored Program
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Principal Investigator
Travis W Mecham

Company Information

Luxsine Energy Company

PO Box 763
Sapulpa, OK 74066
   (918) 224-8956
Location: Single
Congr. District: 03
County: Creek

Phase I

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An important problem facing rural America is the lack of job opportunities. This is particularly true in much of the arid southwestern U.S. These rural communities have little that they can export into commodity priced markets. Hence, this region has among the highest incidence (% of county population) of poverty in the U.S. Yet, the southwestern U.S. has abundant solar energy which could provide the comparative advantage for rural economic development - creating new business and job opportunities. Historically, the collection and conversion of sunlight into usable forms of energy has been too expensive and too inefficient to take advantage of this abundant, renewable resource. Mathematical modeling of a new proprietary process indicates very high conversion efficiencies from sunlight into usable forms of mechanical heat energy. The purpose of this research is to construct a test apparatus to rigorously quantify the overall solar flux-to-heat energy efficiency and validate the mathematical models for a new solar-thermal technology. This new technology can be constructed of simple, inexpensive materials to efficiently generate raw heat. This heat can be used in numerous industrial, commercial, manufacturing or other agricultural processes or to generate electricity. These advances promise to make solar energy a competitive alternative to fossil fuels and create a supply of affordable energy, one of the pillars in economic development: to power renewal in rural southwestern communities. OBJECTIVES: In summary, the objectives of this research are to design and construct a test apparatus and perform certain experiments to verify anticipated high sunlight-to-heat energy conversion efficiencies of a new solar-thermal technology: the Solar Coil. Additional experiments will be conducted to validate correspondence between equations developed from basic physical principles and actual field measurements. These objectives and acceptance criteria are specified in more detail as follows. 1.) Design and construct a small test apparatus with the components and test equipment necessary to manually track the sun and to collect, concentrate, and inject approximately 9.2kW of solar flux into the center of a Solar Coil situated inside an insulated pipeline. This objective is deemed successfully completed when the test apparatus is constructed and operable to perform the tests in Objective #2 and Objective #3. 2.) Operate the test apparatus and make necessary measurements and perform calculations to show high efficiency in the conversion of solar flux to heat energy. This objective is deemed successfully completed by demonstrating an anticipated high solar-to-heat conversion rate of 50% (or greater). 3.) Operate test apparatus and make necessary measurements and perform calculations to verify that the derived mathematical equations describing energy transformation and thermal transfer processes predict results in correlation with observations, including the ability to incrementally add solar energy to the same coil. This objective is deemed successfully completed by demonstrating that the form of the equations provides a reasonable description of the energy transfer processes. It is not required or expected that these calculation provide an exact numerical prediction of the thermal characteristics of the process. Correspondence of predicted and observed within 20% would be considered excellent correspondence at this stage of research. APPROACH: The Solar Coil is essentially a solar-powered heating element at the center of an insulated pipeline. Solar flux is concentrated using a system of parabolic mirrors and introduced, via light pipes, into the center of the Solar Coil where it propagates in an axial direction (similar to a fiber-optic). Due to multiple internal reflections inside the Solar Coil, the flux energy is absorbed as heat-energy by the wall of the Solar Coil. This developed heat is transferred into a passing thermal fluid on the outside of the Solar Coil. Using a thermal fluid of water, the efficiency of the conversion process will be determined by comparing the energy causing a measured rise of temperature of the water (at a measured flow rate) to the incident solar flux energy (measured with a solar pyrheliometer) captured by the area of the system of parabolic mirrors. Once efficiency calculations are completed, the apparatus will be modified and re-configured in a manner to take measurements to validate that the derived equations for a linear Solar Coil are in general conformance to the actual physical measurements

Phase II

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