3M partnered with Gossamer Space Frames to build the Large Aperture Trough 73, the world’s largest parabolic trough solar collector. Unveiled in May, the LAT 73 is installed at Cogentrix Energy’s Sunray facility in Daggett, Calif., where it adds approximately 275 kilowatts of additional electricity to the plant’s total output.
A parabolic trough solar collector works by using reflector panels to focus concentrated sunlight in order to produce heat. This heat is used to turn water into steam, which drives a turbine that generates electricity.
The reflector panels in the LAT 73 are made from 3M™ Solar Mirror Film 1100, which offers superior optical performance at a significantly reduced weight. Together with mechanical design innovations from partner Gossamer Space Frames, the 3M film helps make the new solar collector the most affordable parabolic trough on the market, with cost savings of up to 25 percent.
The LAT 73 launch also provided an important opportunity for 3M to raise its profile in the solar energy industry.