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WAUCONDA, Ill--The Aluminum Extruders Council (AEC) recently released the results of a study that is said to confirm the material and economic advantages of using extruded aluminum for solar structural framing applications. Material, fabrication, transportation, and field assembly costs were estimated and vetted for use in the study. The report by IBIS Associates, "Manufacturing and Lifecycle Cost Analysis for Aluminum Solar Structures," is said to provide compelling technical and economic reasons to consider and use extrusions for parabolic trough and other structural applications.
"Approximately 30 percent of the worldwide CSP parabolic trough installations use aluminum extrusion, but there are still many companies that do not fully understand why extrusions are so ideally suited to this application," said Craig Werner, president of Werner Extrusion Solutions LLC in Lake Forest, Illinois, and leader of the AEC Solar Market Development Team. "This study demonstrates how the use of aluminum extrusions provides a competitive advantage in these solar applications from a long-term strategic material viewpoint."
The installation and operation of the Nevada Solar One Concentrated Solar Power facility in Boulder City, Nevada confirmed the technical and commercial worth of utilizing aluminum extrusions as the key structural component for the parabolic mirror framing systems (see "Contract Manufacturer Finds its Place in the Sun," February 2009 issue of Design-2-Part Magazine). National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) testing and operational results have proven the optical efficiencies and low ongoing maintenance costs associated with parabolic trough designs utilizing aluminum extrusions. According to the IBIS study, the technical and economic reasons to consider and use extrusions for parabolic trough and other structural applications are compelling, whether considering long-term material pricing, current material pricing, or the comparative material prices of aluminum, steel, and zinc at any time over the last two decades.
"Designing with aluminum extrusions is the better choice for this and countless other applications," said Werner. "Using aluminum extrusions for the frame structure provides cost and performance benefits that far outstrip the pure material cost difference."
Aluminum extrusions are reported to offer lower production costs than other processes, increase energy efficiency, create more eco-friendly and recyclable products, and enable green technologies, such as solar applications, to flourish. Components made of extruded aluminum support advanced technologies and drive innovations forward in environmentally responsible ways, according to AEC. In addition to inherent corrosion resistance, aluminum extrusions offer lighter weight for lower shipping costs compared to heavier materials; designer-friendly options for faster and easier on-site assembly; and quick prototype and production times.
The Aluminum Extruders Council has released a report, "Aluminum Extrusions are Better for Solar Frames and Mounting Systems," which summarizes the results of the IBIS study. The report can be found on the AEC website at www.aec.org.
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