Outdoor Exposure Testing Program for Optical Materials Used in Solar Thermal Electric Technologies

    Research output: NRELTechnical Report


    Developing low-cost, durable advanced optical materials is important for making solar thermal energy technologies viable for electricity production. The objectives of a new outdoor testing program recently initiated by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are to determine the expected lifetimes of candidate reflector materials and demonstrate their optical durability in real-worldservice conditions. NREL is working with both utilities and industry in a collaborative effort to achieve these objectives. To date, simulated/accelerated exposure testing of these materials has not been correlated with actual outdoor exposure testing. Such a correlation is desirable to provide confidence in lifetime predictions based upon accelerated weathering results. This outdoor testingprogram will allow outdoor exposure data to be obtained for realistic environments and will establish a data base for correlating simulated/accelerated outdoor exposure data with actual outdoor exposure data. In this program, candidate reflector materials are subjected to various outdoor exposure conditions in a network of sites across the southwestern United States. Important meteorologicaldata are continuously recorded at these sites; these data will be analyzed for possible correlations with material optical performance. Weathered samples are characterized on a regular basis using a series of optical tests. These tests provide the basis for tracking material performance and durability with exposure time in the various outdoor environments. This paper describes the outdoortesting program in more detail including meteorological monitoring capabilities and the optical tests that are performed on these materials.
    Original languageAmerican English
    Number of pages8
    StatePublished - 1994

    NREL Publication Number

    • NREL/TP-471-5865


    • durability
    • optical materials
    • outdoor testing
    • reflector materials
    • solar thermal energy


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