The Design and Fabrication of a Lower Cost Heliostat Mirror System for Utilizing Solar Energy

EPA Grant Number: SU833166
Title: The Design and Fabrication of a Lower Cost Heliostat Mirror System for Utilizing Solar Energy
Investigators: Ostergren, Warren
Current Investigators: Ostergren, Warren , Barnes, Timothy , Das, Prithwish , Green, Matthew , Martinez, Theresita , Slingsby, Robert , Williams, Katelyn
Institution: New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: I
Project Period: August 30, 2006 through May 30, 2007
Project Amount: $9,970
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2006) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Energy , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability


A heliostat is a mirror based system which is used to continuously reflect sunlight onto a central receiver. The collected solar energy is then converted into electrical power. Currently, costs associated with the construction and maintenance of heliostats have proven prohibitive with respect to mainstream industry use. As such, it is the goal of this project to develop a lower-cost heliostat; yielding an alternative energy system that is less taxing on the environment than conventional fossil-fuel dependant methods, yet competitively priced. To achieve this, a student design team reviewed a number of concepts, including those defined by prior research groups and the team itself. A QFD (Quality Function Deployment) analysis was used to evaluate the concepts, isolating the hemispherical design as the most economical and efficient. This hemispherical design was then substantiated using computer modeling and physical tests of an integrated movement control system. Future work, to be funded by the P3 grant, will include a more thorough analysis of the structural components and the control system, creation of a scaled prototype, and measurements based upon the response of the prototype. This data will then be used to move the project into the final design stage, including material selection, detailed structural schematics, and a fully functional control system. In this final stage, the team will be able to accurately estimate a life-cycle cost; including initial capital, operation and maintenance, and part replacement. This cost estimate is a fundamental goal of the team and will ultimately determine the feasibility of the design’s insertion into the modern energy industry. At the completion of the project, important steps will have been made towards the adoption of new methods and technologies. These steps will inevitably aid in the conservation of an already taxed ecosystem, allowing the (non-destructive) continuation of human growth and development.

Supplemental Keywords:

Ecological effects, life-cycle analysis, alternatives, sustainable development, clean technologies, innovative technology, renewable, conservation, engineering, modeling, analytical, business, industry,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Sustainable Industry/Business, POLLUTION PREVENTION, Sustainable Environment, Energy, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Environmental Engineering, heliostatic mirror, sustainable development, environmental sustainability, solar energy

Relevant Websites:

Cost Reduced Heliostat Design Exit

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report