Low Cost Parabolic Cylindrical Trough for Concentrated Solar Power

Technology #15874

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Professor Alexander Slocum
Department of Mechanical Engineering, MIT
External Link (pergatory.mit.edu)
Ronald Campbell
Department of Mechanical Engineering, MIT
Managed By
Christopher Noble
MIT Technology Licensing Officer - Clean and Renewable Energy
Patent Protection

Low Cost Parabolic Cylindrical Trough for Concentrated Solar Power

PCT Patent Application WO 2015-175688

Low Cost Parabolic Cylindrical Trough for Concentrated Solar Power

US Patent Pending US 2017-0082322


Applications for this technology are found in manufacturing and installing parabolic troughs for concentrated solar power.

Problem Addressed

Concentrators increase the efficiency of solar systems by focusing the sun's energy onto a small area.  However, concentrators have stringent tolerances, which traditionally require expensive manufacturing techniques like water-jets or extensive alignment during installation.  This technology develops high-quality parabolic trough concentrators that can be manufactured and installed cheaply.


This technology forms the parabolic troughs by mounting formed sheet metal onto precision backside ribs.  The ribs are shaped by rolling standard metal tubes.  Rather than forming a perfect parabola, this technology approximates the parabola with several circular arc segments.  This adjustment allows the ribs to be manufactured with the traditional three roller process without needing to dynamically vary the inter-roll spacing.  The approximation does not significantly affect performance since the error associated with using three circular arcs in place of a parabola is less than 1 mm when the focal length is 1.71 m.


  • Low cost high-performance parabolic solar concentrator
  • Inexpensive manufacturing processes
  • Uses standard metal components