18 May, 2024

Fluid power increases solar efficiency

02 April, 2015

Skyfuel inc, of Arvada, Colorado designs and manufactures parabolic trough concentrating solar collectors, to harness solar radiation for the production of steam for utility-grade electricity generation and industrial applications. Crucial to the effective operation of the parabolic trough is the ability to precisely position the concentrator for maximum solar capture as the sun moves across the sky.

In order to maintain optimum efficiency the trough must track the sun with precise controls and maintain accuracy within 0.06 degrees with virtually no variation. Skyfuel faced the challenge of controlling very large trough collectors which must maintain tracking efficiency with wind gusts of up to 40 mph in harsh conditions.

High output

In response to the challenge Helac Corporation and Skyfuel Inc. joined forces to create an integrated tracking, control and drive system for large solar power systems, operating together under the name On-sun. This system comprises of two major subsystems, including Helac’s hydraulic actuator, with exclusive sliding spline design. The actuators provide the highest possible output torque of 43,000Nm yet are still capable of rotating the collector assembly in precise 0.1 increments through the entire 240 degrees of total rotation. The large contact surface of the helical gearing allows the L30 actuator to provide increased holding torque of up to 203,370Nm which eliminates the need for an external brake mechanism found on competitive drive systems.

Streamline design

The streamline design of the Helac rotary actuator makes it easy to add to a structure, simplifies installation and eliminates linkages and bearings, while reducing the bill of materials. All moving parts are enclosed, which, states the company, guarantees a durable product suitable for harsh environments. The actuators are designed to function as a rotating device, mounting bracket and bearing all in one, providing powerful, compact and drift free positioning.

UK supplier

Until recently these actuators were only available direct from Helac. Now, Yarl Hydracentre, based in Cumbria, can supply the Helac actuator range to the UK market providing actuator application advice, service and refurbishment.


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