CSP technology uses mirrors or lenses attached to tracking systems to concentrate large amounts of sunlight in a small area. The light is then used directly as heat, or as a heat source for power plants. Parabolic troughs are linear parabolic reflectors. Gossamer Space Frames contributed innovations in structure and alignment to the LAT 73 design, said president and co-founder Glenn Reynolds, in a press release.
Gossamer has designed several utility-scale CSP collectors, including first-generation plants in Spain and the Nevada Solar One plant in Boulder, Colo. The company's second-generation designs include several large aperture trough designs. "By combining 3M innovations in materials and Gossamer Space Frames innovations in structure and alignment, we are leading the industry on a new cost-reduction trend," said Reynolds. "Many in the industry thought the rebirth of CSP was not possible, but we are delighted to prove them wrong."
3M's Renewable Energy Division was formed in 2009 to bring together several related technologies under one roof. These include films, tapes, coatings, encapsulants, sealants, and adhesives that help reduce the cost of renewable energy, such as solar, wind, geothermal, and biofuel.
According to a timeline accessable on 3M's Solar Mirror Film 1100 Webpage, 3M's reflective films have been used to construct parabolic mirrors for solar energy collectors since 1979. Since then, the company has introduced solar energy collection films as an alternative to glass mirrors to cut costs and boost weatherability, and patented a solar energy concentrator. In the 1990s, 3M introduced the Solar Mirror Films product line, and patented a solar energy concentrator.
3M and Gossamer said a second LAT 73 project is being built in the southern US, and that project commissioning is scheduled for June 2012.