You gotta love Infinia’s PowerDish. Solar thermal generating instant residential spec A/C. It is a better-sized version of the SES attempt at Sandia. And as someone from Detroit, I love their interest in leveraging the manufacturing expertise there.
But they should consider modular mirrors. Check the specs on the PowerDish: 1900lbs with a 4.7m/15’ diameter mirror (call it 16m2 or 175ft2). That’s big. I’m betting the installed cost of the dish sans motor is a lot more than $1600 ($100/ m2). Plus, if it breaks, it’s off line, whereas with 20 modular mirrors, if one breaks, it goes off line and you’ve only lost 5% of your light collection capacity.
Mirror curvature (and wind shear) could be addressed with modular heliostats. Ignoring a 1m2 hole in the middle of your parabola, you’d have 8 1m2 identical parabolic-slice mirrors in your first ring and 16 1m2 mirrors in your second ring. You only need two mirror shapes. Injection molded curved plastic with PVD reflective coatings anyone? Include a few holes to reduce wind strain.
And let’s face it, that engine is designed for household use (1φ, 240V A/C). What you really want is for 1,000,000 homeowners to buy it and install it at their house. Is the hesitation releasing the IP into the wild before you’ve scaled?
Longer term, it just makes more sense to decouple the light collection from the power conversion. The power conversion component is where the value is added. Light collection should be a commodity. A monolithic design which ties these functions together reduces the chance that the power conversion part will be a success. And I hope Infinia is a resounding success.