12 December 2003 Ultralight stretched Fresnel lens solar concentrator for space power applications
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Abstract
A unique ultra-light solar concentrator has recently been developed for space power applications. The concentrator comprises a flexible, 140-micron-thick, line-focus Fresnel lens, made in a continuous process from space-qualified transparent silicone rubber material. For deployment and support in space, end arches are used to tension the lens material in a lengthwise fashion, forming a cylindrical stressed membrane structure. The resultant lens provides high optical efficiency, outstanding tolerance for real-world errors and aberrations, and excellent focusing performance. The stretched lens is used to collect and focus sunlight at 8X concentration onto high-efficiency multi-junction photovoltaic cells, which directly convert the incident solar energy to electricity. The Stretched Lens Array (SLA) has been measured at over 27% net solar-to-electric conversion efficiency for space sunlight, and over 30% net solar-to-electric conversion efficiency for terrestrial sunlight. More importantly, the SLA provides over 180 W/kg specific power at a greatly reduced cost compared to conventional planar photovoltaic arrays in space. The cost savings are due to the use of 85% less of the expensive solar cell material per unit of power produced. SLA is a direct descendent of the award-winning SCARLET array which performed flawlessly on the NASA/JPL Deep Space 1 spacecraft from 1998-2001.
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Mark J. O'Neill, Michael F. Piszczor, Michael I. Eskenazi, A. J. McDanal, Patrick J. George, Matthew M. Botke, Henry W. Brandhorst, David L. Edwards, David T. Hoppe, "Ultralight stretched Fresnel lens solar concentrator for space power applications", Proc. SPIE 5179, Optical Materials and Structures Technologies, (12 December 2003); doi: 10.1117/12.505801; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.505801
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