Phoenix firm focuses on solar technology similar to UA prof's rig

2012-08-17T15:07:00Z 2012-08-17T17:27:21Z Phoenix firm focuses on solar technology similar to UA prof's rigBy David Wichner Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
August 17, 2012 3:07 pm  • 

A Phoenix-based company is working on new concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) technology that shares some striking similarities with a system under development in Tucson by University of Arizona astronomy professor Roger Angel.

The CPV system under development by Phoenix-based Southwest Solar Technologies Inc. uses a dish-shaped mirror array to focus sunlight on high-efficiency, triple-junction PV cells, with a liquid cooling system to handle the resulting heat load. The system, which Southwest Solar calls “patent-pending,” also includes an undescribed "optical element," according to the company’s website.

The technology Angel and his company, REhnu, are developing uses arrays of square, parabolic mirrors in a special, tracking space frame to focus light through a ball-shaped lens onto triple-junction PV cells, with a liquid cooling system.

Prior CPV designs have used a grid array of Fresnel lenses to focus sunlight individually on high-efficiency cells. Pioneers in that design include California-based Amonix Inc., which last year installed a 2-megawatt CPV array at the UA Science and Technology Park's Solar Zone demo area.

Founded in 2008, Southwest Solar Technologies had previously demonstrated thermal solar-dish turbine technology.

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From the cosmos to the invisible world of nanotechnology, this is the place for anyone with a "scientific bent" in Southern Arizona.

Senior reporter Tom Beal provides color commentary from the science beat and assistant business editor Dave Wichner contributes an inside look at the business aspects of technology.

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