Santa Clara Mag Blog
Solar Update: Chromasun gets a boost from the Land Down Under
Friday, Dec. 17, 2010
In the Winter 2010 SCM we reported on the new rooftop solar collector that was installed on the Ripple House. As that story noted, the new Micro-Concentrator (MCT) is a first-of-its-kind unit that supplies heating, hot water, and air condition.
What would make Chromasun’s MCT even better -- the cleantech equivalent of a five-tool, can’t-miss outfield prospect? Give it the ability to produce electricity.
Indeed, within days of the winter issue of SCM going to press, Chromasun announced it and a few partners had been awarded a $3.2 million applied research grant from the Australian Solar Institute (ASI) to do just that.
Chromasun, the Australian National University, the University of New South Wales, and the Commonwealth Scientific Research Organisation will use the grant to develop a next-generation unit, the MCT Hybrid HT, capable of delivering high-temperature solar thermal heat and solar electricity.
The high temperatures required to cost-effectively deliver solar cooling and industrial process heat (above 150 degrees Celsius) exceed the optimal operating temperature for typical electricity-generating photovoltaic cells. But Chromasun’s solution would use “spectral splitting to thermally decouple the photovoltaic cells from the 150 degrees Celsius circulating fluid,” according to a statement.
"This new research and resulting module will be disruptive because it will deliver high-grade heat yet allow the photovoltaic cells to operate at a cooler and more efficient temperature," says CEO Peter Le Lievre.
The ASI grant will cover three years of research, with field trials expected in 2012-13.
In addition to the Ripple House installation, Chromasun is also building larger showcase projects, says Le Lievre.
Test installations are in the works for the East Coast of the United States, Abu Dhabi, Germany, and India. In 2011, Chromasun will make the MCT publicly available through a network of HVAC specialists.