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Scientist team at IIT Madras working to make the most out of solar energy
November 19, 2019

Scientist team at IIT Madras working to make the most out of solar energy

  • K Srinivas Reddy Department of Mechanical engineering

Being a tropical country allows India to harness solar energy, a renewable and environment-friendly source of energy. The National Solar Mission has been launched with the target of providing 20,000 MW of solar power by the year 2022. However, lower rates of energy generation through solar power is a major roadblock in achieving this target. 

A team  from IIT Madras have designed, fabricated and checked the efficiency of an indigenously developed low-cost parabolic trough collector system (PTC) for concentrating solar energy. The insights from this research can help manufacturers and researchers in the field of solar energy to make more efficient solar devices.

One of the ways to capture solar energy is through the use of PTC systems. PTC systems concentrate sunlight onto a small area where it is absorbed and then utilized for heating and subsequently for energy generation. This system consists of a concentrator/reflector, receiver, supporting structures (pylon, torque tube, mirror supporting arm and receiver support) and tracking unit. The concentrator of the parabolic trough collector system receives the solar incident radiation from the sun and reflects it onto the receiver which is placed at the focal line of the PTC system to heat a liquid. This heated liquid then boils water making steam to run turbines and generators for generating electricity. The tubes which absorb this sunlight from reflectors has a glass exterior and metal interior holding a heat transfer liquid, which can be molten salt, oil etc.