TRINAMIC Supports Exciting Renewable Energy Project

Autonomous Rim Drive Heliostat AutoR

TRINAMIC’s strong support for renewable energy has led to cooperation with the German Aerospace Agency—known by the German language initials DLR—and the University of Hamburg’s Department of Telematics on a unique heliostat design. Trinamic is designing ultra-efficient smart drives and control system for a new type of heliostat, the RIM DRIVE HELIOSTAT. Heliostats comprise thousands of individual mirrors that track the sun’s movement to reflect energy to a common steam turbine for electricity generation. Each mirror requires a motor to control the sun-tracking movement, and all motors must be centrally controlled.

Andreas Pfahl, from DLR, inventor of this new heliostat concept, developed the basic idea for the RIM DRIVE HELIOSTAT as he wondered why drives of conventional heliostats are placed near the rotational axes. This placement leads to high resistance and demands high precision of the heliostat motor drives.

“Imagine positioning the door knob close to the hinge instead of placing it (as normal) at the other edge, where the door is easier to control.”

By positioning the drives near the heliostat rims, it is possible to significantly increase the leverage and reduce the load and the required drive precision. Using a ray-tracing program provided by DLR, it was possible to prove that this kind of heliostat is suitable for all possible positions within a heliostat field.

With a special drive system designed by Trinamic, the usual self-locking gears (which are inefficient and expensive) can be avoided. Thus the efficiency of the heliostat is increased by a factor of two, which reduces the cost of energy supply and storage of the autonomous heliostat significantly. With a meshed wireless network, cabling can also be avoided completely. The autonomous rim drive heliostat is being developed in the project “AutoR” together with the German Space Agency DLR and the Technical University of Hamburg Harburg Department of Telematics.

One Comment

  • Danika

    Hi Tim,I’ve never tried it myself, but I think it could be made to work for one of their aluzaimtth type mounts. I don’t know what changes would need to be made though since I have never seen the inside of one. If these telescopes use stepper motors to pan and tilt, then it would probably be fairly easy to apply the Arduino heliostat program. If they use some other type of electronic trickery to move to a specified altitude and azimuth though, it could be a serious pain.Of course, if there was an easy way to just feed the altitude and azimuth calculations for aligning the heliostat into Meade’s software , then you might not even have to open the thing up!I guess, I don’t know enough about the telescopes to be able to determine how much effort it would take to modify one. I’m sure that it is possible though. It just might take quite a bit of experimenting to figure it all out.

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