- Graduate Student Researcher Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science
- University of California at Davis, Davis, CA 95616
David Barlev received his B.Sc. degree in Applied Physics with a physical electronics concentration from the University of California at Davis in June 2009. He was admitted into the UC Davis Integrated Degree Program (IDP) for Physics and Electrical Engineering and is currently pursuing his Master's degree in Electrical Engineering. In November 2009, he joined Dr. Pieter Stroeve's group as a Graduate Student Researcher, in the Chemical Engineering and Material Science Department at UC Davis. He is currently working on a review article assessing recent innovation in concentrated solar power.
Current Project - Innovation in Concentrated Solar Power (CSP)
As the world's supply of fossil fuels shrinks, there is a great need for clean and affordable renewable energy sources in order to meet growing energy demand. Achieving sufficient supplies of clean energy for the future is one of society's great challenges. Sunlight, the largest available carbon-neutral energy source, provides the Earth with more energy in one hour than is consumed on the planet in an entire year. Despite of this, solar electricity provides only a fraction of a percent of the world's electricity.
A great deal of research is continuously being put into harvest and storage of solar energy. Concentrated solar power is one field that has been under investigation for several decades; using mirrors, sunlight can be redirected and focused to create heat, which can in turn power a turbine or a heat engine for electricity generation. There are four major CSP technologies: parabolic trough collectors (PTC), Fresnel mirrors, solar towers and dish-stirling engine systems. There is much debate as to which of these is the most effective technology. Parabolic trough mirrors have a pipe running along their focal line, through which heat-transporting fluid flows to collect solar heat and transport it to a water heater for steam generation. This fluid can be water, oil, and more recently, the use of ionic liquids has been suggested. A Fresnel mirror system operates in a similar way, but uses long flat mirrors at that reflect sunlight at different angles and focus it on one or more pipes containing heat-collecting fluid, which are mounted above the mirrors. Power towers consist of a tower surrounded by a large array of heliostats, which are mirrors that track the sun and reflect its rays onto the receiver at the top of the tower. Power towers reportedly have higher conversion efficiencies than parabolic trough systems, but currently lack commercial experience in comparison. Solar dish systems consist of a dish-shaped concentrator that reflects solar radiation onto a receiver mounted at the focal point. The receiver can be a Stirling engine and generator (dish/engine systems) or it may be a type of PV panel that has been designed to withstand high temperatures (CPV systems). These systems are more expensive, but can theoretically achieve the highest efficiencies of all four technologies, due to the very high concentration they can provide. All of these can incorporate some form of sun tracking technology to increase light collection throughout the day.
In addition to light collection for electricity generation, heat energy storage is an important aspect of CSP. Heat can be stored in molten salts (long term) or heated water (short term) kept in good isolation. Storage is crucial for the wintertime, where weather conditions reduce the influx of sunlight that can be collected.
Finally, CSP can be incorporated and used in a variety of other applications, such as desalination of water, production of limestone, hydrogen production, and heating of buildings.