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solar power, solar energy, concentrating solar power, csp, solar troughs, airlight, airlight energy, concrete solar troughs, air pillows, etfe, air pillow mirror, pneumatic mirrors, mirrors, solar thermal energy, switzerland, renewable energy, green design, green power, eco design

Airlight Energy began developing its concentrating solar power troughs back in 2007 and has also been working on concentrating photovoltaics, which they recently finished testing. Both their CSP and CPV are both ready for commercial development and make use of a rigid precast, fiber reinforced, concrete frame. This frame tilts on a single axis to follow the sun throughout the day and maximize on the solar resource. To build a system, Airlight manufacturers and transports the critical components, i.e. the pneumatic mirrors, but the concrete frames are fabricated locally. This minimizes transports of heavy goods and gives a boost to the local economy. The concrete frames are also more durable and longer lasting than other frame systems available.

Each system features a multi-arc pneumatic mirror made from a long lasting transparent ETFE foil on the upper side, a silicon fibreglass fabric on the bottom side, and a flexible mirror foil (made of polyester film with a reflective aluminized mirror coating on upper side), which is well protected inside. By inflating the air pillow, Airlight is able to create a near-perfect parabola at a lower cost compared to companies who need to manufacture highly precise mirrors. The air pillow also protects the mirror from dust and dirt and can maintain its shape under heavy wind loads. The ETFE foil has self-cleaning properties, which means less maintenance for the operating crews to keep the system clean, further increasing the energy efficiency.

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