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Linear Fresnel – a Concentrating Solar Power Technology to Advance Energy Innovation

Event Type
Mechanical Science and Engineering
2005 Mechanical Engineering Laboratory (Deere Pavilion)
Mar 28, 2017   12:00 - 1:00 pm  
Dr. Guangdong Zhu, Senior Engineer, National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Originating Calendar
MechSE Seminars


Linear Fresnel is one of two line-focus concentrating solar power technologies. It utilizes an array of flat or near-flat mirrors to track the sun and concentrate sun light to a fixed receiver assembly. The mirrors are aligned in rows close to the ground and the receiver assembly includes one or multiple absorber tubes with an optional secondary reflector. A type of heat transfer fluid (such as water/steam and thermal oils) flows through absorber tubes and is heated by concentrated solar power. The fluid outlet temperature may range from 200 °C to 550 °C.


The generated high-grade heat from linear Fresnel collectors can be used in various types of applications: 1) electricity generation through a thermodynamic cycle; 2) combined heating & cooling system at a commercial scale; 3) green fuel generation through bioenergy/solar hybrid systems; 4) water desalination. In addition, the talk will discuss the latest progresses in the development of an innovative linear Fresnel collector with an industrial partner. The new design adopts water-borne mini-size tube reflectors and has a great potential to reduce the current-level collector cost by half.


At last, the speaker will discuss his vision on how to combine linear Fresnel technologies and other renewable energy technologies to sustain off-grid communities.


About the Speaker

Dr. Guangdong Zhu has been a senior research engineer in the concentrating solar power (CSP) program of the Buildings & Thermal Systems center at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) since 2010. At NREL, he is leading research efforts related to linear Fresnel technology, solar collector optical characterization and techno-economic analysis of solar hybridization with other types of energy systems. He won NREL’s President’s award and Outstanding New Partnership Award in 2016. Prior to joining NREL, Dr. Zhu worked in industry and had worked on optimization, prototyping and engineering of advanced molten salt concentrating solar systems. Dr. Zhu obtained his Ph.D. from the University of New Mexico.


His ongoing research projects are focused on low-cost innovative solar collector developments, solar/geothermal hybridization research, drone-driven non-intrusive optical characterization method of solar field and geothermal power plant techno-economic analysis. His project funding agencies and partners include DOE’s solar technology office and geothermal technology office, California Energy Commission, Southern California Gas Company, Hyperlight Energy, U.S. Geothermal, University of Colorado at Boulder (CU), and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). He is also serving in the technical advisory committee of UCLA’s innovative thermal energy project funded by the California Energy Commission.  He has published about 17 peer-reviewed journal papers and over 20 peer-reviewed conference papers/reports in the areas of renewable/traditional energy systems, thermal science, applied optics and fluid mechanics.


Host: Professor Gaurav Bahl

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