SOLAR COLLECTOR MOUNTING ARRAY
A solar collector structural support system that affixes to a mounting surface without penetrating the mounting surface is disclosed. The invention in the preferred embodiment includes a base assembly comprising: a plurality of leg members, a center junction elements configured to receive (a) the proximal end of each of the plurality of leg members and (b) a support member configured to securely uphold at least one of the one or more one solar collectors, and at least one footing adapted to frictionally engage the mounting surface. Multiple base assemblies may be interconnected using peripheral junction elements to form arrays of solar collectors of arbitrarily large size. The peripheral junction element is configured to couple the leg members of multiple base assemblies. When connected with the present invention, a plurality of solar concentrators form an array with greater structural integrity and less susceptibility.
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This application is a continuation application of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/644,642, filed Dec. 22, 2006 entitled “SOLAR COLLECTOR MOUNTING ARRAY, which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional App. No. 60/576,770, filed Jun. 2, 2004 and is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/144,995 filed Jun. 2, 2005, now U.S. Pat. No. 7,156,088, which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/042,031 filed Jan. 24, 2005 entitled “SELFBALASTING SOLAR COLLECTOR,” which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/612,592 filed Sep. 22, 2004, entitled “APPARATUS FOR REDIRECTING PARALLEL RAYS USING SIMPLE RIGID TRANSLATION,” and of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/557,738 filed Mar. 30, 2004, entitled NON-PENETRATING ROOF-MOUNTED TRACKING SOLAR COLLECTOR,” all of which are hereby incorporated by reference herein and should be considered a part of this specification.FIELD OF INVENTION
The invention generally relates to solar collector support structures and particularly relates to a system of solar collector support structures frictionally affixed or affixed with adhesive to a mounting surface via one or more non-penetrating contacts.BACKGROUND
Solar collectors by their nature are, at some time in their operation, exposed to the outdoor environment. In some systems, the wind load may produce lateral forces that push the system in a direction co-parallel to the wind as well lifting forces that can pull a system upwardly. As such, a solar collector is subjected to wind forces they may be large enough to cause the solar collector to move with such motion disrupting the operation of the device. In order to maintain its location, the support structure for a solar collector is fixed attached to it mounting surface. If the mounting surface is at ground level, a firm mounting may be achieved by attaching the solar collector support structure to concrete footings that may be placed at or below ground level. If the mounting surface is the top of a building, roof-penetrating mounting anchors may be used to secure the solar collector support structure. With repeated small motions and aging, the mounting anchor's seals loosen and permit water leakage. In addition, depending on the roof-penetrating mounting anchors used, it may be difficult, if not impossible to re-roof or resurface the rooftop with the solar collector support structure anchors present. There is therefore a need for a solar collector support structure adapted to remain fixed on a mounting surface such as roof and, when deployed with one or more solar collectors, sufficiently wind resistant without surface-penetrating anchors.SUMMARY
The invention in its several embodiments provides one or more support structures for solar collectors, solar concentrators, heliostats and wind blinds or articulated wind blinds as part of a wind management system, that may be mounted on mounting surfaces such as rooftops or ground surfaces where penetration of the mounting surface for anchoring purposes is not permitted. Generally, the system of solar collector support structures frictionally affixed to a mounting surface via one or more non-penetrating contacts. The systems are modular in their preferred embodiments and my additionally laterally supported via abutting with structures extending from the mounting surface or via extending below the mounting surfaces at one or more of its edges. Accordingly, the system of solar collector support structures, when deployed, provides a frame that includes a plurality of footings adapted to frictional affix the frame to a roof, for example, so that one or more solar collecting devices may be detachably secured to the roof without compromising the integrity of the roof. The diameter of the carousel is preferably about half the width of a concentrator assembly 2420, although the diameter may be as small as one-third of the width of an optical element.
The solar collector devices may include a directable array or tracking array of optical elements, or a continuous surface typically concentrating sunlight on a receiver may be a photovoltaic cell and the one or more reflectors include an array of mirrors. The concentrator, including the receiver and mirrors, may include a heliostat array. The heliostat array includes: (a) a positioning plate adapted to simultaneously aim each of the plurality of mirrors—each of which is adapted to rotate about a first center of rotation—in a direction bisecting the interior angle between the source and the receiver; and (2) a plurality of reflector positioning arms for operably coupling the plurality of reflectors to the positioning plate, each of the positioning arms being adapted to rotate relative to the positioning plate about a second center of rotation.
The mast of a directable or tracking array and the footings of a heliostat array for example may engage the system of solar collector support structures to exploit the friction between the system's surface contact pads and a rooftop, thereby enabling the solar collecting device to reside on the rooftop without using fasteners or anchors that might otherwise penetrate the mounting surface and, in this example, expose the roof to damage.
The present invention is illustrated by way of example and not limitation in the figures of the accompanying drawings in which:
The invention in its several embodiments and as a system of solar collector support structures provides for the mounting of one or more solar energy collecting devices wherein the mounting may be made secure to a mounting surface such as a rooftop without penetrating the surface. The solar collectors, in some embodiments, include collection surfaces that are broken into smaller elements so that the collection surface does not present a solid surface to the wind, but rather a perforated surface that wind can at least partially blow through. In some embodiments, the collector or reflecting surface is solid. The solar collectors in some embodiments may be heliostat arrays.
The system of solar collector support structures solar collectors optionally receive integral wind deflector to further reduce the magnitude of aerodynamic drag and lift forces generated in high wind conditions on the one or more solar collectors that may be structurally supported by the system. The wind deflector is typically configured to reduce the amount of wind to which adjacent solar collectors may be subjected, and preferable to cause the wind to exert a downward, stabilizing force on the solar collector, rather than an upward, lifting force. The system of solar collector support structures also optionally include leg extensions that can be adjusted to extend to the edges of the roof, to further reduce the likelihood that the solar collectors will slide out of position on the roof. In addition, to further reduce the likelihood that the solar collectors will slide out of position on the roof, the system of solar collector support structures for mounting on a first surface without penetrating the surface may also optionally include leg extensions that are interposed between a leg of the system and a second surface extending from the mounting surface, e.g., a rooftop wall, and optionally placed in compression with a resilient element.
Illustrated by example in
Returning to the deployed example of
The system of solar collector support structures described herein also optionally includes leg extensions that can be adjusted to extend to the edges of the roof. A schematic configuration of exemplary leg extensions is provided in
The system of solar collector support structures described herein optionally may receive one or more wind deflectors, such as an integral wind deflector, to further reduce the magnitude of aerodynamic drag and lift forces generated in high wind conditions where the wind deflectors may deflect wind over the deployed receiver arm of a deployed tracking or mast-mounted solar collector. A schematic configuration of exemplary wind deflectors 171-174 is provided in
The wind deflectors advantageously reduce the amount of aerodynamic drag force to which the solar collector 100 is subjected, and causes the wind to apply a downward force to the underlying base assembly 105, thereby assisting in the stabilization of the base assembly on the rooftop. In some embodiments, the wind deflectors shield only the top portions of a tracking or mast-mounted solar collector, such as the top third or half of the solar collector, thereby deflecting wind over the part of the collector capable of generating the greatest aerodynamic lift and drag forces.Mast-Mounted Solar Collector
The solar collector 100 includes a collection surface 130 that comprises an array of optical elements 132. In an exemplary embodiment, the optical elements 132 are mirrors. In other embodiments, the optical elements 132 are lenses or other simple or complex optical elements capable of redirecting light and can include composites of reflective and refractive elements. The solar collector 100 also includes a receiver arm 140 having a mounting bracket 142, to which a collection cell (not illustrated) can be mounted.
As illustrated in
The orientation of the collection surface of an exemplary solar collector may be adjusted in both a horizontal plane (an “azimuth adjustment”) and the vertical plane (an “elevation adjustment”). In an exemplary embodiment, an azimuth actuator 150 provides the azimuth adjustment, and an elevation actuator 152 provides the elevation adjustment. The azimuth actuator 150 may include electrical motor with gearing and a belt or chain drive to rotate the solar collector 100 with respect to the post or supporting member 107 of the base assembly. For example, the azimuth actuator 150 may orient the solar collector toward the east in the morning, and toward the west in the afternoon. The elevation actuator 152, illustrated by example as an electrically drive worm screw engaging a pin or tooth fixed attached to a slidable frame of a mast-mounted solar collector, is accordingly configured to pivot the solar collector 100 with respect to the base assembly. That is, an exemplary embodiment may include an elevation actuator 152 includes a motor 151 configured to rotate a screw that causes a bracket 154 supporting the collection surface 130 to be raised or lowered. Other configurations for the azimuth actuator 150 and the elevation actuator can be used in other embodiments. For example, the elevation actuator 152 may orient the solar collector toward the horizon during the early and late portion of the day, and toward the zenith during the midday and effect a stowed position for wing profile minimization. Other effecting and actuating devices may be applied in place of or in combination with a stepper motor. For example, hydraulic, electromagnetic, electromechanical devices such as solenoids and the like may be used.
Electrical wiring used for collecting electricity from collection cells, for powering and controlling the azimuth and elevation actuators, and for other uses can be routed through the legs 110, which can thereby serve as electrical conduits. The electrical wiring can be coupled to pins or sockets which mate to corresponding sockets or pins in an adjacent solar collector. Other wiring and connection techniques can be used as well.
The system of solar collector support structures disclosed herein by example may support other solar energy collection systems. For example, while the individual optical elements 132 described above are fixed with respect to each other, in other embodiments other systems having individually adjustable tracking elements may be mounted at one or more junction elements to the solar collector support structures.Heliostat
A solar collector having more than one point of attachment to a system of solar collector support structures is illustrated in
In the preferred embodiment, the array is a linked heliostat array comprising a plurality of siderostats, a positioning plate operatively coupled to each of the plurality of siderostats, and a receiver incorporated into the receiver housing 301. The plurality of siderostats in cooperation with the positioning plate 305, are adapted to reflect the incident sunlight to a common focal point coinciding with a receiver (not shown) independently of the position of the sun. Each of the plurality of siderostats includes a combination reflector and a positioning arm rotatably attached to a heliostat chassis by means of an articulated mounting structure permitting the reflector to be steered under the control of the actuated positioning plate. The positioning plate 305 is generally characterized by a non-planar surface configured to orient each of the reflectors to reflect the sunlight to the same fixed focal point as the sun sweeps across the diurnal sky, for example. The positioning plate 305 is effectively geometrically encoded with the position of each reflector as a function of the receiver position and position of the reflector within the array.
In the exemplary embodiment, the reflectors are mirrors 303 that reflect incident sunlight to the receiver housing 301 and the receiver therein. The position of the receiver and housing 301 are preferably fixed relative to the plurality of siderostats by means of receiver support arms 302. The receiver in the preferred embodiment includes a photovoltaic plate, associated electronics, and cooling system, although various other forms of energy converters may also be employed including thermal absorbing liquids, for example. In alternative embodiments, the receiver is selected from a group comprising a heat exchanger, heat engine, and turbine, for example.
The plurality of mirrors in the exemplary embodiment are arrayed two dimensionally in a horizontal or incline plane and the mirrors adapted to rotated about two orthogonal axes. In other embodiments, the plurality of mirrors may be arrayed three dimensionally with suitable modification to the contour of the positioning plate 305. In the preferred embodiment, each of the siderostats is rotatably affixed to heliostat chassis which comprises a support frame 306, a plurality of supports 310 spanning the width of the chassis, and a plurality of stantions 309 atop the supports 310 for mounting the mirrors 303.
In some preferred embodiments, the frame of the solar energy concentrator is made to frictionally adhere to a roof using a plurality of footings that distribute the weight of the concentrator and increase the friction inhibiting the concentrator from sliding across the roof under the force of gravity or wind loading or combinations thereof. As illustrated in
In some embodiments, the walls 1130 of the footings outer facing surfaces are inclined to mitigate the force of wind or to induce downward pressure on the footings for purposes of increasing static friction while spreading the point loads into a larger surface, thus preventing roof damage or deformation. In still other embodiments, the footing includes a rubber pad or other material with a high coefficient of static friction to further enhance the ability of the concentrator to resist lateral movement. In still other embodiments, the footing may be indirectly attached to the roof by means of an adhesive, epoxy, mastic, tar, or like bonding agent. Depending on the weight of the concentrator, the underside of the footings may be designed with a footprint large enough to reduce the overall average roof loading to less than 4 pounds per square foot and the point loading associated with the footing to less than 34 pounds per square foot.
As illustrated in
In addition, the several embodiments of the system of solar collector support structures may be used to secure the heliostat to a mounting surface. For example, junction elements having three or four arms or leg receivers may form three-leg or four-leg base assemblies respectively where these three-leg or four-leg base assemblies may be joined to from hexagonal, square or rectangular arrays of central junction elements for receiving the heliostat footings and peripheral junction elements for receiving ballast elements.
Each solar concentrator assembly includes one or more lenses for concentrating light onto one or more receivers that capture and convert the incident energy. In the preferred embodiment, each concentrator assembly includes at least one Fresnel lens 2420 which is held perpendicular to the incident light by a tracking controller. The light from each Fresnel lens 2420 is concentrated by a factor of up to 500 before impinging on one or more photovoltaic cells. In the preferred embodiment, each of a plurality of point-focused Fresnel lenses directs light to one of a plurality of photovoltaic cells intermittently distributed along the length of the concentrator assembly 2410, although one skilled in the art will appreciate that a line-focused Fresnel lens may also be employed to direct light to a string of photovoltaic cells arrayed in a line along the length of a concentrator 2410. In other embodiments, the concentrator assemblies include cylindrical or parabolic troughs for reflecting light onto at least one receiver adapted to capture the incoming light.
The plurality of concentrator assemblies 2410A-2410C are configured to track the sun over the course of a day by moving about two degrees of freedom. In particular, the multiple concentrator assemblies are mounted to a frame 2450 that rotates in a horizontal plane using a carousel 2454, for example. The base of the carousel 2454 is then affixed to a mounting surface via a plurality of legs 2456 and footings 2458. The concentrator assemblies therefore collectively rotate in unison about a common vertical axis.
In addition, each of the individual concentrator assemblies 2410A-2410C is adapted to rotate relative to the frame 2450 about a unique longitudinal axis. In the preferred embodiment, each concentrator assembly is pivotally connected to the frame 2450 via a mounting arm 2452. Depending on the implementation, the elevation angles of the individual concentrator assemblies may be independently rotated relative to the associated pair of mounting arms to aim the assembly toward the incident sunlight 2490. The concentrator assemblies may include separate actuators or be tilted in unison with a common actuator and linkages that couple the concentrator assemblies together.
The footings 2458A-2458C are configured to securely mount to the underside of the carousel ring 2454 where they contact the mounting surface via one or more footing pads, for example. In the preferred embodiment, the footings include a structural member made of galvanized steel while the pads are made of rubber or other high friction material adapted to inhibit sliding of the solar concentrator across the roof or other mounting structure in the presence of wind.
As illustrated in the top views of the base assembly in
The concentrator assemblies 2410A-2410C and frame 2450 are held upright with one or more base assemblies. As illustrated in
The peripheral junction element 2650 described above is a separate component that is detachably attached to one or more leg members. In the preferred embodiment, the peripheral junction element and leg members are connected using one or more bolts, pins, latches, clasps, or other fasteners. In other embodiments, however, the peripheral junction element or central junction element may be integrally attached to one or more leg members to facilitate easy of assembly of a concentrator array.SCOPE OF THE INVENTION
Although the description above contains many specifications, these should not be construed as limiting the scope of the invention but as merely providing illustrations of some of the presently preferred embodiments of this invention. It should be appreciated that the specific configurations and operations disclosed can differ from those described above, and that the systems and methods described herein can be used in contexts other than solar energy collection. Therefore, the invention has been disclosed by way of example and not limitation, and reference should be made to the following claims to determine the scope of the present invention.
1. A solar collector support system for mounting one or more solar collectors to a mounting surface, the support system comprising:
- a plurality of base assemblies, each base assembly comprising: a plurality of leg members, each of the plurality of leg members comprising a proximal end and a distal end; a center junction element configured to connect to: (a) the proximal end of each of the plurality of leg members; and (b) a support member configured to securely uphold at least one of the one or more one solar collectors; and at least one footing adapted to frictionally engage the mounting surface; and
- at least one peripheral junction element configured to couple distal ends of leg members of two or more base assemblies;
- wherein the plurality of base assemblies are rigidly affix together in an array.
2. The solar collector support system of claim 1, wherein the plurality of leg members of one or more base assemblies are rotatably connected to the corresponding center junction element.
3. The solar collector support system of claim 2, wherein the plurality of leg members are configured to pivot to a deployed configuration in which the plurality of leg members project from the center junction element in a substantially radial pattern.
4. The solar collector support system of claim 3, wherein the plurality of leg members in the deployed configuration lie in a substantially common plane at the mounting surface.
5. The solar collector support system of claim 1, wherein the peripheral junction elements are adapted to support a wind shield.
6. The solar collector support system of claim 1, wherein the peripheral junction elements are adapted to support a ballast element.
7. The solar collector support system of claim 1, wherein the mounting surface is a roof.
8. The solar collector support system of claim 1, wherein the distal end of at least one of the plurality of leg members is configured to securely abut a structure extending from the mounting surface.
9. The solar collector support system of claim 1, wherein the distal end of the at least one of the plurality of leg members is configured to extend beyond and about a mounting surface boundary.
10. The solar collector support system of claim 1, wherein the center junction element and support member are rotatably coupled.
11. The solar collector support system of claim 10, wherein the center junction element and support member are coupled by rack and pinion gear.
12. A solar collector support system for mounting one or more solar collectors to a mounting surface, the support system comprising:
- a plurality of base assemblies, each base assembly comprising: a carousel configured to provide rotation about a substantially vertical axis; a plurality of leg members connected to the carousel; at least one footing adapted to frictionally engage the mounting surface; and
- at least one peripheral junction element configured to couple leg members of two or more base assemblies;
- wherein the plurality of base assemblies are rigidly affixed together in an array.
13. The solar collector support system of claim 12, wherein the plurality of leg members are rotatably affixed to the at least one footing of the corresponding base assembly.
14. The solar collector support system of claim 13, wherein the plurality of leg members are configured to rotate between a stowed configuration and a deployed configuration.
15. The solar collector support system of claim 14, wherein the plurality of leg members are configured to rotate inward adjacent to the carousel.
16. The solar collector support system of claim 12, wherein the at least one peripheral junction element is configured to support a ballast element.
International Classification: F24J 2/46 (20060101); F24J 2/52 (20060101);