Arch Aluminum and Glass Co., Inc. has developed innovative new mirror manufacturing techniques to meet the demand for lower cost and more efficient concentrator photovoltaic units in the burgeoning renewable energy industry.
The Arch parabolic mirrors optically focus sunlight onto a concentrator containing active solar cell materials that convert the intense light into electricity. The paint backing for these techniques are lead free, which allows Arch to mass produce environmentally friendly lead free mirrors capable of withstanding high temperatures. "Coatings applied to parabolic-shaped glass in a high-volume, high-production manner has never been done before," said Tony Lawson, director of solar operations for Arch. This latest innovation at Arch has the potential to help bring the cost of generating solar power on par with coal-fired power plants, according to Lawson. "We recognized the need for a cost-effective approach and are proud to be the first to provide a product for this demand," he said.
The new process for silvering and coating bent glass was developed by a new division within Arch named Solar Command. In addition to improving techniques for coating bent glass, the Solar Command production team was also able to speed up the manufacturing process. The lead-free nature of each product adds another sustainable dimension to the work of the new Arch division.
"We now believe we have positioned ourselves to play a role in accelerating the growth of the solar energy industry, and this latest green product innovation shows we are committed to tirelessly pursing sustainable technologies for our manufacturing processes," President and CEO Leon Silverstein stated.
Solar Command's efforts have sparked interest from around the world from investors in technologies for solar collectors and concentrators for utility-scale power plants. "We believe manufacturing is alive and well in the United States and this latest project of ours is significant evidence of that," Silverstein said.
Arch plans to sell the solar mirrors directly to manufacturers of solar power generation equipment from its production line in Fort Pierce, Fla. Arch is also looking to partner with leading developers of solar power in the production of mirrors for concentrator photovoltaic units as well as solar tower systems, heliostats, solar troughs and Stirling dish systems.
Solar Command continues the legacy of innovation and environmental stewardship at Arch, which since the 1970s has manufactured and fabricated glazing and extruded aluminum systems for buildings while incrementally improving quality and finding cost-effective solutions for its customers. In decades past, the company has installed water reclamation systems at its plants in order to preserve drinking water, and introduced more energy-efficient glass products for energy conservation in buildings.