US 20070199563 A1
The present invention is directed to an apparatus for the collection and conversion of light energy including a collector element defining the shape of a pentagon, and a concentrator including a plurality of pentagon shaped reflector elements symmetrically arranged around the collector element. Each of the reflector elements being disposed at an angle relative to a plane of the collector element and having an edge thereof substantially aligned with and adjacent one of the sides of the collector element.
1. An apparatus for the collection and conversion of light energy comprising:
a collector element defining the shape of a pentagon, and
a concentrator including a plurality of pentagon shaped reflector elements symmetrically arranged around the collector element, each of the reflector elements disposed at an angle relative to a plane of the collector element and having an edge thereof substantially aligned with and adjacent one of the sides of the collector element.
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16. An apparatus for the collection and conversion of solar energy comprising a plurality of pentagon-shaped reflective elements symmetrically arranged around a pentagon-shaped collector element.
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This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/774,237 filed on Feb. 16, 2006 and titled “Apparatus for Concentration and Conversion of Solar Energy”. The disclosure of the provisional application is incorporated in its entirety herein by reference.
The present invention pertains generally to apparatus for the collection and conversion of solar energy to other types of useful energy. More particularly the invention is directed to an apparatus for the collection and conversion of light energy having a plurality of pentagonal reflector elements arranged about a pentagonal shaped collector element.
Solar concentrators collect sunlight over an area and direct the light onto a collection or conversion element such as a photovoltaic element. Typically, the collection or conversion element defines a smaller surface area than that of the concentrator. In this way, the radiant energy incident on the entire area of the concentrator is directed to the collection or conversion element and converted to useful energy such as electrical power where the concentrator is coupled to a photovoltaic element.
Current solar collectors and conversions systems include a wide range of devices including the use of lenses and reflectors which are often very sensitive to the angle of incidence of the sunlight. Other devices employ tracking systems to track the sun's movement and thereby attempt to optimize the position of a solar collector relative to the angle of the sunlight.
Representative examples of prior art devices for the collection and conversion of solar energy include:
U.S. Pat. No. 6,700,055 to Barone discloses a solar concentrator system including a collector lens for collecting and at least partially focusing incident solar rays, a solar cell and a lens array positioned generally between the collector lens and the solar cell, the lens array directing the partially focused rays emerging from the collector lens onto the solar cell.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,700,054 to Cherney et al. which discloses a solar collection system and method having means for receiving solar radiation through a main refractive interface and means for internally reflecting at least once a portion of the solar radiation. The refractive medium may be liquid, gel or solid. The device can be integrated with a photovoltaic device, a photohydrolytic device, a heat engine, a light pipe or a photothermal receptor.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,840,645 discloses a light tube system for distributing sunlight or artificial light. One embodiment of the system includes a pair of opposed reflectors rotatably mounted to track the movement of the sun.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,061,181 is directed to a nontracking light converger including a housing surrounding a light absorbing means such as a heat conductive conduit or a photovoltaic cell collector plate. Angularly extending from the upper surface of the light absorbing means are a plurality of substantially triangular prisms for refracting and directing light from the open top of the housing downwardly towards the light absorbing means.
One disadvantage of many prior art devices is that they require one of more lenses for focusing the sunlight onto a solar cell or other device which can be an expensive components and significantly add to the cost of the energy generated.
Another disadvantage of many prior art systems is the requirement of a tracking system which also significantly adds to the cost of the energy.
Based on the foregoing, it is the general object of the present invention to provide an apparatus for the concentration and conversion of solar energy that overcomes many of the problems and drawbacks of prior art systems.
The present invention provides an apparatus for the collection and conversion of light energy including a collector element defining the shape of a pentagon, and a concentrator including a plurality of pentagon shaped reflector elements symmetrically arranged around the collector element. Each of the reflector elements disposed at an angle relative to a plane of the collector element and having an edge thereof substantially aligned with and adjacent one of the sides of the collector element.
In one embodiment, the concentrator includes five reflector elements each defining the shape of a regular pentagon, a regular pentagon having five sides of equal length. The apparatus of the present invention including reflector elements shaped as regular pentagons provides an increased concentration of 2.5 times the suns radiation on the collector element or “2.5 suns”.
In other embodiments of the present invention irregular pentagons are utilized to provide further enhanced concentration of light incident on the collector element.
One object of the present invention is to provide an apparatus for solar concentration on a collector element ranging from about 3 times to about 6 times the incident radiation of the sun.
Another object of the present invention is to provide a cost effective solar collection and conversion device including only readily available reflective materials, such as flat mirrors configured according to novel geometries so as to produce enhanced solar concentration.
Another object of the present invention is to provide an apparatus for solar collection and conversion which is small and lightweight and useful for various applications such as recharging batteries for electronic devices such as cellular telephones, computers, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and other similar devices.
Another object of the present invention is to provide large-scale apparatus for solar collection and conversion for mounting on buildings, vehicles, or in remote locations having limited access to electrical power.
Another object of the present invention is to provide an apparatus for solar collection and conversion wherein the energy produced by the apparatus allows for recouping the cost of the apparatus within a range of about two to about four years.
A further object of the present invention is to provide an apparatus for solar collection and conversion that includes embodiments that are affordable and cost-effective for industrial, municipal, residential and personal applications.
These and other objects, features and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent in view of the following detailed description and accompanying drawings.
In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, as shown in
A plurality of reflector elements 14 are arranged symmetrically around the perimeter of the collector element 12. In the
In other embodiments of the present invention, the apparatus 10 is constructed using reflector elements 14 which define irregular pentagons. Two examples are identified following including a discussion of the advantages of the different arrangements.
The above-identified characteristics of pentagon 30 are achieved by reducing the elevation angle Θ from 60 degree of the regular pentagon 17 of
The geometry of pentagon 30 is particularly effective for a concentrator 13 formed from a unitary embossed reflective plate with single crystal photovoltaic elements in a well thereof which provides the collector element 12. Also due to the more open geometry resulting from the lower angle of elevation Θ, the pentagon 30 design provides improved efficiency than the regular pentagon for use in stationary non-tracking systems.
Referring again to
In general, when the elevation angle Θ of the reflector elements 14 is increased, the half angles between the sun and the normal to the reflector elements are also increased and the outer reflected rays are pulled inward. Increasing the height of the pentagon allows the outer rays to be reflected so as to contact the collector element 12 at an opposing edge thereof thereby providing an increase in the light energy incident on the collector element 12 when compared with a concentrator 13 formed of regular pentagons 17.
Referring again to
In other embodiments of the present invention, the concentrator 13 can provide still further increases in concentration levels; e.g., at an elevation angle Θ of 67 degree, the concentrator will provide a concentration of approximately 4.5 sun; at an elevation angle Θ of 71 degree, the concentrator will provide a concentration of approximately 5 sun; at further increased elevation angles, a maximum concentration level of 6 sun is achievable. However, concentrators 13 providing these higher concentrations require larger reflector elements 14 which can be impractical for some applications due in part to the cost of the reflectors utilized.
In other embodiments of the apparatus 10, the reflective elements are connected to the collection element 12 by a connector such as a fixed, adjustable, hinged, rotatable, and remotely controllable connector.
In various embodiments of the present invention, the reflector elements 14 are manufactured from materials including mirrors, reflective plastic materials, reflective metal materials and elements enclosing reflective particles suspended in a fluid, gel or solid medium.
The collection element 12 can include photovoltaic cells, photovoltaic panels, coiled tubing containing a heatable fluid, a light pipe, a solar oven, a water heater, a hot water-powered turbine, and devices suitable for recharging batteries as well as other types of energy conversion devices.
Accordingly, the present invention apparatus for the collection and conversion of light energy 10 provides an efficient method to collect and concentrate light and other forms of radiation including sunlight, moonlight, lightning, artificial light, reflected light, refracted light and UV radiation.
The foregoing description of embodiments of the invention have been presented for the purpose of illustration and description, it is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the form disclosed. Obvious modifications and variations are possible in light of the above disdosure. The embodiments described were chosen to best illustrate the principals of the invention and practical applications thereof to enable one of ordinary skill in the art to utilize the invention in various embodiments and with various modifications as suited to the particular use contemplated. It is intended that the scope of the invention be defined by the claims appended hereto.