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Solar Energy

Published on December 10th, 2009 | by Tina Casey


Gossamer Teases More Energy from Thin Film Solar

December 10th, 2009 by  

New thin film solar panel support systems by Gossamer Space Frames can produce a more cost-effective installation.Gossamer Space Frames has introduced two new concentrated solar power technologies that marry low tech components and off-the-shelf elements with high tech thin film solar panels to yield a system that costs less, can be installed more quickly, and collects solar energy more efficiently.


While much of the solar industry has focused on improving the efficiency of solar panels themselves, companies like Gossamer are demonstrating that the cost-effectiveness of a solar array also depends on the infrastructure that supports those panels.  Gossamer uses a more sustainable, simple design approach to cut costs and improve efficiencies.  The two new patent-pending technologies, SunLock and Minitruss, join Gossamer’s roster of solar array installation systems which also includes the patented Coaxial Joint System and patented Organic Connector.

A Less Expensive Solar Array Infrastructure

Gossamer designed its SunLock center drive for concentrated solar trough arrays using cut galvanized steel plates instead of machine casted steel.  Instead of complex gear systems that must be installed on site, it uses off-the-shelf hydraulics that can be readily procured from major suppliers such as Parker Hannifin.  The Minitruss is a durable, low cost reflective panel that can be fitted with virtually any thin film solar material, which also helps streamline the procurement process and cut costs.  The company is demonstrating the Minitruss technology using 3M’s Solar Mirror Film.

Simplicity and Solar Power

An earlier Gossamer patented product, the Organic Connector, is a mirror trough frame.  More than 9,000 of them were used to construct the 64-megawatt Nevada Solar One concentrated solar installation.  Compared to other conventional frames, they cost less to manufacture and assemble, mainly because of their more sustainable design approach.  They use 30% less aluminum and require 35% fewer components to build, including 80% fewer fasteners.   They also install much more quickly and achieved a greater focusing accuracy.

Image: The sun at dawn by Irargerich on flickr.com. 


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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

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