Automatic positioner and control system for a motorized parabolic solar reflector

Prinsloo, Gerhardus Johannes (2014-12)

Thesis (MEng)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Most rural African villages enjoy high levels of sunlight, but rolling out solar power generation technology to tap into this renewable energy resource at remote rural sites in Africa pose a number of design challenges. To meet these challenges, a project has been initiated to design, build and test/evaluate a knock down 3 kW peak electrical stand-alone self-tracking dual-axis concentrating solar power system. This study focusses on the mechatronic engineering aspects in the design and development of a dynamic mechatronic platform and digital electronic control system for the stand-alone concentrating solar power system. Design specifications require an accurate automatic positioner and control system for a motorized parabolic solar reflector with an optical solar harnessing capacity of 12 kWt at solar noon. It must be suitable for stand-alone rural power generation. This study presents a conceptual design and engineering prototype of a balanced cantilever tilt-and-swing dual-axis slew drive actuation means as mechatronic solar tracking mobility platform for a ∼12 m2 lightweight parabolic solar concentrator. Digital automation of the concentrated solar platform is implemented using an industrial Siemens S7-1200 programmable logic controller (PLC) with digital remote control interfacing, pulse width modulated direct current driving, and electronic open loop/closed loop solar tracking control. The design and prototype incorporates off-the-shelf components to support local manufacturing at reduced cost and generally meets the goal of delivering a dynamic mechatronic platform for a concentrating solar power system that is easy to transport, assemble and install at remote rural sites in Africa. Real-time experiments, conducted in the summer of South Africa, validated and established the accuracy of the engineering prototype positioning system. It shows that the as-designed and -built continuous solar tracking performs to an optical accuracy of better than 1.0◦ on both the azimuth and elevation tracking axes; and which is also in compliance with the pre-defined design specifications. Structural aspects of the prototype parabolic dish are evaluated and optimized by other researchers while the Stirling and power handling units are under development in parallel projects. Ultimately, these joint research projects aim to produce a locally manufactured knock down do-it-yourself concentrated solar power generation kit, suitable for deployment into Africa.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Landelike gebiede in Afrika geniet hoë vlakke van sonskyn, maar die ontwerp van betroubare sonkrag tegnologie vir die benutting van hierdie hernubare energie hulpbron by afgeleë gebiede in Afrika bied verskeie uitdagings. Om hierdie uitdagings te oorkom, is ’n projek van stapel gestuur om ’n afbreekbare 3 kW piek elektriese alleenstaande selfaangedrewe dubbel-as son-konsentreeder te ontwerp, bou en te toets. Hierdie studies fokus op die megatroniese ingenieurs-aspekte in die ontwerp en ontwikkeling van ’n dinamiese megatroniese platform en ’n digitale elektroniese beheerstelsel vir die alleenstaande gekonsentreerde sonkrag stelsel. Ontwerp spesifikasies vereis ’n akkurate outomatiese posisionering en beheer stelsel vir ’n motor aangedrewe paraboliese son reflekteerder met ’n optiesekollekteer- kapasiteit van 12 kWt by maksimum sonhoogte, en veral geskik wees vir afgeleë sonkrag opwekking. Hierdie studie lewer ’n konsepsuele ontwerp en ingenieurs-prototipe van ’n gebalanseerde dubbelas swaai-en-kantel swenkrat aandrywingsmeganisme as megatroniese sonvolg platform vir ’n ∼12 m2 liggewig paraboliese son konsentreerder. Digitale outomatisering van die son konsentreerder platform is geimplementeer op ’n industriële Siemens S7-1200 programmeerbare logiese beheerder (PLB) met ’n digitale afstandbeheer koppelvlak, puls-wydte-gemoduleerde gelykstroom aandrywing en elektroniese ooplus en geslote-lus sonvolg beheer. Die ontwerp en prototipe maak gebruik van beskikbare komponente om lae-koste plaaslike vervaardiging te ondersteun en slaag in die algemeen in die doel om ’n dinamiese megatroniese platform vir ’n gekonsentreerde sonkrag stelsel te lewer wat maklik vervoer, gebou en opgerig kan word op afgeleë persele in Afrika. Intydse eksperimente is gedurende die somer uitgevoer om die akkuraatheid van die prototipe posisionering sisteem te evalueer. Dit toon dat die sisteem die son deurlopend volg met ’n akkuraatheid beter as 1.0◦ op beide die azimut en elevasie sonvolg asse, wat voldoen aan die ontwerp spesifikasies. Strukturele aspekte van die prototipe paraboliese skottel word deur ander navorsers geëvalueer en verbeter terwyl die Stirling-eenheid en elektriese sisteme in parallelle projekte ontwikkel word. Die uiteindelike doel met hierdie groepnavorsing is om ’n plaaslik vervaardigde doen-dit-self sonkrag eenheid te ontwikkel wat in Afrika ontplooi kan word.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/96137
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