Paper presented to the 3rd Southern African Solar Energy Conference, South Africa, 11-13 May, 2015.
There is a great need to design cost-effective heliostat arrangements for use in solar power plants. Ideal optimization of the design would be to minimize material and to allow for simple field assembly. The purpose of this study is to develop a parametric finite element model that allows for optimization of a modular heliostat structure, the HelioPod. Static wind profiles are generated using aerodynamic coefficients and steady-state ANSYS® Fluent computational fluid dynamics analyses. The heliostat base structure is built using ANSYS® finite element analysis software utilizing beam elements. These elements decrease run time and are simple enough that the geometry of the section can be easily changed. The existing frame is analyzed as base design, and 5 candidate optimum designs are determine using response surface optimization from 95 design points. In this initial study, the pylon diameter and wall thickness are shown to be the most sensitive parameters in reducing the mass and total deformation of the structure.