July 21, 08
SHEC Labs Creates Solar Thermal Concentrator with 5,000x Power

SHEC LABS has developed the world's most efficient solar thermal technology.

"In filing for patent protection, a review of the current state of the art must be undertaken" said Tom Beck, President and CEO of SHEC LABS. "It appears from our prior art review and from comments of others, that our solar thermal efficiency is the most efficient in the world."

SHEC LABS has developed solar concentrator and complementary solar receiver technology that is able to concentrate sunlight to a very high level. Sunlight has been concentrated up to 5,000 times the intensity of the sun and in commercial scale systems could be high as 11,000 to 16,000 times the intensity of the sun. This immense solar concentration creates high heat at the focal point that approach the surface temperature of the sun at 6,000 °C (11,000 °F). Metal placed at the focus is instantly melted.

To harness this intense sunlight, a solar receiver has been developed to absorb this energy without destruction. Solar receivers radiate energy back into the environment. This is a phenomena called emissivity loss. The amount of energy radiated from an object increases by the power of four in relation to its temperature. For example, an object twice as hot has sixteen times the amount of emissivity loss. For applications operating at 850 °C (1,562 °F) for example, the emissivity loss becomes very high. This temperature is very useful for applications such as alternative fuel production and power generation. Many solar concentrating systems lose a great deal of energy due to emissivity loss. SHEC's technology only has a 5% emissivity loss at this temperature. This low energy loss means more of the collected energy is available for an application for a given size of solar collector and thus improving the economics.

The technology was very challenging to develop, taking the span of a decade to work out the details of the process and materials. The technology will be applied to power generation, process heating, district heating, water distillation, synthesis gas (syn gas) production which can be used for the production of alternative fuels including hydrogen and other applications..