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By Leila Madrone
Precision dual-axis tracking at 1/10th the cost by replacing heavy duty steel and motor-driven systems with miniature, pneumatic plastic drives.
Short description of your technology
Our new drive system has the high precision and long lifetimes required for solar tracking, yet costs little more than injection-molded toys. Our tracker replaces heavy duty steel and motor-driven systems with miniature, air-based plastic drives. The approach takes advantage of commodity manufacturing methods and doesn't use high-risk sliding seals as are used in traditional hydraulics or pneumatics. Further, the required mass of our low-profile heliostat is reduced by over 90% due to reduced forces (such as wind and structural loads). This gives us confidence of close to a 10 X reduction in cost compared to current heliostats and 2-axis tracking systems. This, combined with emerging reductions in tower and storage technologies, would make CSP the lowest cost solar energy available.
What is the key element of your technology that differentiates it from existing solutions
Our key advantage is a high precision drive that can be mass manufactured from every-day plastics yet out-perform traditional heliostats, even in the presence of wind-loading and other extreme environmental conditions. This drive can then be controlled at extremely low cost via off-shelf air valves and a centralized compressed air system. The Otherlab heliostat fundamentally transforms the economics of tracked optics in solar applications, primarily for CSP but potentially for any solar application that incorporates solar tracking.