Solarflux: A Year Of FOCUS In The Field

Solarflux recently shared a twelve-month review of its FOCUS parabolic dish in operation. You may remember my interview with CEO Naoise Irwin last year about this technology. Naoise along with Solarflux CTO John Fangman, who invented the dish, shared how it converts 72% of solar energy into usable heat. In February 2022, the company reflected on the past year of the operation of the dish.

The team has been operating a test FOCUS solar parabolic dish concentrator at Penn State University’s Berks campus since 2016. The operation of the concentrator has been focused on demonstrating the performance, thermal energy collected, and how it’s used to help a nearby greenhouse. The dish has helped reduce the natural gas consumption of that greenhouse.

The company shared the most recent twelve months of operational data from the concentrator, which spans from February 2021 through January 2022, in the blog post. Naoise told me in an email: “During the past twelve months we have made a lot of progress at Solarflux, and we are excited to have successfully demonstrated the performance and low maintenance requirements of the FOCUS concentrator over a long period of operation.”

The key things the blog post covered were:

  • Conversion Efficiency Performance.
  • maintenance requirements.
  • Reflective Material Performance.
  • Safety performance.

The team at Solarflux is beyond satisfied with the performance of the FOCUS field trial over the past year. It demonstrated strong conversion efficiency that is consistent with the company’s models. It can also be operated with minimal maintenance. The trial also gave the team valuable feedback in terms of developing the company’s SCADA platform.

Solarflux plans to build upon the knowledge it’s learned from this trial and to conduct more intensive field testing of the product FOCUS concentrators as it prepares to ramp up production to meet growing market demand from around the globe.

According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), global energy consumption will grow from around 50% from 2018 through 2050. Solarflux noted that heat is the largest energy end-use worldwide and that it accounts for around half of total global energy consumption. The types of heat that are commonly used are process heat, drying, and industrial hot water uses as well as space and water heating or cooking in both commercial and residential sectors. There’s also agriculture. Currently, around one-tenth of heat is produced from renewables. Solarflux aims to change that.

Quick Introduction To Solarflux

The video above shares a bit of information about Solarflux in a nutshell. You may remember Billy Crammer, who has made a few beautiful Tesla spec ad videos. Naoise told me that he hired Billy to create the video for Solarflux. When he did, I happily explained that I’ve used Billy’s work for my own jewelry promotion as well and that Billy is highly recommended. In regards to the video itself, Naoise noted he was very happy with Billy’s work.

“Billy did an exceptional job on the video, which we think has managed to capture the spirit with which we a pursuing this endeavor.”

The video captures the importance of solar, an energy source that is abundant and which is our greatest renewable energy asset. The video states, “With a continuous flow of 174 petawatts, enough solar energy reaches the earth in a single hour to power all of humanity’s energy needs for a year. If only we can do a better job of harnessing the truly massive amount of energy the sun gives us.”

Solarflux noted that it believes a critical part of the solution to unlocking the power of the sun is capturing the sun’s energy as heat, making it both useful and deployable anywhere.

“Wouldn’t it be great, then, if we could create heat directly from a sustainable source? This is exactly what we designed the FOCUS to do.”

The video goes on to share how Solarflux can generate solar thermal energy from deserts, remote islands, factories, and warehouse rooftops.

“By concentrating sunlight to a small area, we can generate an intense amount of heat and we can then transport that heat to a nearby application that can use it. At the end of the day, the only metric that matters is cost per unit of energy.”


 

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