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Solar Reflector Design

Executive summary

Methods were investigated to optimise the collection of solar energy on a roof.

Challenge overview

Erin Energy initiated contact with MACSI and sought help to optimise the design and cost of solar reflectors.

The company were aware that their panels were too thick. They needed guidance on how to approach this problem and required theoretical knowledge on how to solve it. The depth of the panels were also problematic for the construction industry. The company needed to find an economical way of reducing the depth of panels without compromising energy efficiency.

Implementation of the initiative

After initial analysis of the problem MACSI decided that the problem would benefit from an intensive brainstorming session involving using experts from a wide range of mathematical disciplines. Therefore the problem was included in the 70

 

The problem

The device considered in this study collects solar energy on the roof of a house using an energy absorber. The solar energy is first collected, then transported and stored in a chemically based energy tank. Ideally, the roof should be completely covered with energy collectors but they are quite expensive. To reduce the amount of collectors necessary, the roof is covered with mirrors. The challenge was to optimise their shape in order to maximise the solar energy collected and minimise the costs.

Results and achievements

The solar radiation was studied and a ray tracing algorithm was developed by the academics involved. These models were used in simulations during which several techniques were considered to calculate the shape of the mirrors. The optimisation process shows that wide mirrors are not as energy efficient as smaller ones when the depth of the mirror is forced to remain shallow as is preferred in the construction industry. This simple rule is now used in the design of the solar reflector. Managing Director: Sean Hoolan
Phone:+353(0)85 152 3654
Email: seanhoolan@erinenergy.ie
Web: http://erinenergy.ie/ th

European Study Group with Industry: the second industrial study group held in Ireland, organised by MACSI at the University of Limerick. The study group format also simplified the consideration of intellectual property and confidentiality issues since results obtained by study groups are released into the public domain.

30 November 2011
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Executive summary

Methods were investigated to optimise the collection of solar energy on a roof.

Challenge overview

Erin Energy initiated contact with MACSI and sought help to optimise the design and cost of solar reflectors.

The company were aware that their panels were too thick. They needed guidance on how to approach this problem and required theoretical knowledge on how to solve it. The depth of the panels were also problematic for the construction industry. The company needed to find an economical way of reducing the depth of panels without compromising energy efficiency.

Implementation of the initiative

After initial analysis of the problem MACSI decided that the problem would benefit from an intensive brainstorming session involving using experts from a wide range of mathematical disciplines. Therefore the problem was included in the 70

The problem

The device considered in this study collects solar energy on the roof of a house using an energy absorber. The solar energy is first collected, then transported and stored in a chemically based energy tank. Ideally, the roof should be completely covered with energy collectors but they are quite expensive. To reduce the amount of collectors necessary, the roof is covered with mirrors. The challenge was to optimise their shape in order to maximise the solar energy collected and minimise the costs.

Results and achievements

The solar radiation was studied and a ray tracing algorithm was developed by the academics involved. These models were used in simulations during which several techniques were considered to calculate the shape of the mirrors. The optimisation process shows that wide mirrors are not as energy efficient as smaller ones when the depth of the mirror is forced to remain shallow as is preferred in the construction industry. This simple rule is now used in the design of the solar reflector.

Managing Director: Sean Hoolan
Phone:+353(0)85 152 3654
Email: seanhoolan@erinenergy.ie
Web: http://erinenergy.ie/ th

European Study Group with Industry: the second industrial study group held in Ireland, organised by MACSI at the University of Limerick. The study group format also simplified the consideration of intellectual property and confidentiality issues since results obtained by study groups are released into the public domain.

 

Attached Documents

PDF icon Irish Mathematics and Industry (Irish_Mathematics_and_Industry.pdf | 1.42 MB)