Modern parabolic trough collectors consist of the basic components torsion boxes/tubes, cantilever arms for the mirror bearing and pre-formed glass mirror facets. This base structure has been maintained since the first installed commercial models from the 1970’s, but the modern designs are significantly more efficient due to improved materials and processes.
The Euro Trough collector, for which DLR has had important involvement in the development, is so far the most common parabolic trough collector with different variations implemented in most solar power plants. The original Euro Trough design (length: 150 m, aperture width: 5,76 m) has been further developed by several collector producers during the last years, which has resulted in parabolic trough collectors with aperture widths over 7 meters and collector lengths over 200 meters on the market since 2014. These parabolic trough collectors are technically almost fully developed and already optimized for minimal costs for production and installation.
Development of innovative collectors at DLR
In contrast to the common strategy of improving and enlarging the details in the basic structure of classic collectors, scientists at DLR work on the development of new basic collector concepts and innovations to enable further cost reductions for heat and electricity from solar thermal power plants. New collector concepts mainly include development of new technologies for concentrators, new kinds of collector structures and implementation of alternative materials. Moreover, research is being done on implementation of innovative heat transfer media.
The current main research topics at the Institute of Solar Research at DLR are:
Fixed focus trough with divided concentrator
This collector is a parabolic trough with segmented mirror surface and a stationary absorber tube. (more)
An innovative collector with a concentrator structure made of concrete. (more)
Molten Salt Trough (MS-Trough)
The MS-Trough is a pabolic collector, which improves the deployment of molten salt als heat transfer medium in solar power plants. (more)