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New solar system collects energy, rain or shine

Researchers at UC Merced have created a new kind of solar thermal system that generates high temperatures and efficiency levels without having to track the sun.

The system, which works all day, uses specially made collector tubes to collect sunlight. Using existing technology, the heat generated from the collectors can then be transformed for cooling and heating, among other potential uses, researchers said Wednesday.

Solar collectors usually have to move and track the sun to achieve full energy production and require additional equipment that can be costly and difficult to maintain, researchers said.

"What makes (the collector tubes) so unique is that they don't have to track the sun," said Heather Poiry, a mechanical engineering student who works with UC Merced Professor Roland Winston, who pioneered the system. "This is the only one of its kind that doesn't have to move to track the sun."

The system had been in the works for the past two years. The group was able to get it up and running this summer with the help of many other UC Merced students, some of whom volunteered their time.

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