California Firm Creates a New Solar Thermal Technology Market

Solar Thermal molding in action
Solar Thermal molding in action.

Central Coast California solar technology firm LightManufacturing is showcasing its new applications for solar thermal energy and a unique set of products at the Solar Power International Conference this week in Anaheim, California.

“We’re not a PV company,” explains founder Karl von Kries. “We don’t make electricity.  Instead, we use concentrated solar heat to replace fossil fuels in industry. For example, we’ve learned how to mold water tanks and boats using solar thermal energy at a fraction of the cost.”

The company has molded thousands of commercial-grade plastic parts for private clients at the company’s research facility.

The firm’s Solar Rotational Molding or SRM™ process recently received US Patent protection.  The company is targeting several industrial processes for conversion to real-time solar heat.

In addition to patents and process know-how, the firm developed a unique line of sun-tracking heliostats. A two-year effort yielded a simple, industrial-grade heliostat that’s efficient to deploy in small arrays.

“The new H1 is remarkably easy to use,” says von Kries, “and it’s the first ‘Internet of Things’ or IoT heliostat.” According to the firm, the H1 is the first heliostat that connects to the Internet for simple cloud-based configuration and aiming. No software is required to use the H1, just a web browser on a computer or smartphone.

Solar Thermal Heliostats

Solar Thermal Heliostats

For greater heat intensity, customers can order the Vacuum Mirror option, a patent pending field-adjustable mirror, which according to the firm can focus most of the reflected energy onto a circle.

LightManufacturing’s unique vision for solar thermal in industry won the firm a slot at the competitive “Start-Up Alley” section of the massive Solar Power International show, and landed the company a chance to present at the even-more-selective Startup Challenge competition. SPI attracts 20,000 visitors and 600 exhibitors each year, so “we’re very excited to be invited,” says von Kries.

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This post was prepared by Solar Thermal Magazine staff.

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