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FOCUS Progress Update - MIT's Stacked Hybrid Solar Converter

A high fidelity integrated system model has been developed and optimized which predicts exergy performance of the HEATS receiver (includes optical, thermal, and pumping losses). This model is vital for accurate receiver design, as the individual components interactions cannot be captured if modeled separately. The model tracks different spectral bands separately, which allows for the tracking of the three primary bands of interest (PV band, and the two solar bands above and below). In-house simulation tools for modeling concentrated solar flux distribution on a central receiver from multi-reflector array geometries such as heliostats and linear Fresnel reflectors (LFRs), were also developed as part of the integrated model.

From a fabrication standpoint, a variety of high reflectance selective absorber fins have been tested and found to achieve reflectance targets in the pass band using fewer nanostructured layers than our original design (resulting in reduced fabrication time and system cost). Likewise, optically transparent and thermally insulating aerogels have been successfully synthesized, meeting thickness-corrected transmittances and thermal conductivity metrics.

Moving forward, in addition to continued optimization of spectral properties, we are beginning to start extensive durability testing on the individual HEATS receiver components (SSTC, aerogels, etc.). Concurrently, an outdoor testing site in Cambridge is being secured for future setup of a prototype collector, and scaling up of various aerogel synthesizing methods are in progress. 

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