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Method of manufacturing large dish reflectors for a solar concentrator apparatus

United States Patent

December 27, 2011
View the Complete Patent at the US Patent & Trademark Office
A method of manufacturing monolithic glass reflectors for concentrating sunlight in a solar energy system is disclosed. The method of manufacturing allows large monolithic glass reflectors to be made from float glass in order to realize significant cost savings on the total system cost for a solar energy system. The method of manufacture includes steps of heating a sheet of float glass positioned over a concave mold until the sheet of glass sags and stretches to conform to the shape of the mold. The edges of the dish-shaped glass are rolled for structural stiffening around the periphery. The dish-shaped glass is then silvered to create a dish-shaped mirror that reflects solar radiation to a focus. The surface of the mold that contacts the float glass preferably has a grooved surface profile comprising a plurality of cusps and concave valleys. This grooved profile minimizes the contact area and marring of the specular glass surface, reduces parasitic heat transfer into the mold and increases mold lifetime. The disclosed method of manufacture is capable of high production rates sufficiently fast to accommodate the output of a conventional float glass production line so that monolithic glass reflectors can be produced as quickly as a float glass production can make sheets of float glass to be used in the process.
Angel; Roger P (Tucson, AZ), Olbert; Blain H (Tucson, AZ)
Arizona Board of Regents (Tucson, AZ)
12/ 463,026
May 8, 2009
This invention was funded by the United States Government under the Department of Energy contract No. DE-FG36-08G088002. The U.S. government has certain rights in this invention.