Roni Alima, Jessica Blazek, Daniel Colbert, Daniel Corrada, Matthew Giles, Utah Johnson, Roberto Profeta
Sun Chariot is a cost-effective heliostat module designed for concentrated solar-thermal power uses. The Hedgehog Concept of Sun Chariot is described by a strong adherence to capitalizing on monetary conservation through creative and highly effective mechanical system solutions. The solution in Sun Chariot derives its uniqueness from its throttle body assembly actuation, unforeseen from prior heliostat designs. By using one central means of motion for a degree of freedom rather than individual actuators for each heliostat, Sun Chariot reduces the need for expensive components such as additional motors. Each heliostat is equipped with a servo to actuate the vertical degree of motion using a worm and pinion gear system. To control the respective motors, an inexpensive ESP32-DevKitM-1 microcontroller equipped with the required WiFi capabilities to track the sun’s acute position is incorporated. Easily attainable materials such as PVC are used in the “X” shaped base, optimized to reduce materials while still providing the required rigidity. Finally, the reflector is composed of commonly used silver-coated glass capable of sustaining the harsh conditions of direct sunlight. These reflectors are attached to the rest of the heliostat via a strong epoxy adhered bracket, and furthermore actuated by the worm and spur gear system. The entirety of the module’s innards is cleverly housed in the PVC interior, allowing for protection of the electronics from possible weather that may hinder the lifetime of the module. Design considerations made in Sun Chariot contribute towards answering the need for fiscally responsible solutions to the rising energy crisis.