Samson Roll Formed Products Company is a contract roll former that serves many different industries including the solar power industry. This edition of Roll Forming News features one of the products that Samson makes for this industry. The part is a parabolic shaped channel that is used in a solar panel assembly called a Compound Parabolic Collector. The collector is used for solar water heating, space heating, industrial process heat and solar cooling projects.
Solar thermal conductors offset energy consumption by concentrating solar energy as heat that is used to heat water in swimming pools, sinks, and showers; it also can be used to heat or cool buildings. This technology is different from the better-known solar photovoltaic panels, which produce electricity from the sun’s energy. Both types of solar technology decrease pollution including greenhouse gas emissions, sulfur dioxide, and mercury.
The technology is based on the mathematics non-imaging optics as developed by a professor at the University of Chicago. Non-imaging optics concentrates light more intensively than traditional optics. In some applications, this technology has proven to be able to concentrate sunlight up to 84,000 times the natural level of sunlight at the Earth’s surface. This exceeds the surface of the sun by 15 percent.
Another advantage is that the collector requires no moving parts unlike conventional solar arrays that must move over a range of 60 degrees from winter to summer in order to collect direct radiation from the sun.
Samson’s engineers worked with the customer to convert an aluminum extrusion to a roll formed shape using very thin-walled aluminum that has a highly reflective surface, which is protected by PVC during the roll forming process. The roll formed part is the main component of the solar collector. The trough of the channel is designed to accommodate a pipe. The sunlight that is reflected off of the walls of the channel heats the pipe, which in turn, heats the water circulating through it. The solar heated water is then circulated throughout the building to generate heat and cost savings for the occupants.