Heliostat Project from Students at Khalifa University, UAE

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The above video shows a group of students from Khalifa University, located in UAE, showcasing their very well thought out project consisting of a heliostat array design, collector, and control system. Even on this small scale, it is reported to be able to generate steam.

It was the video’s narrator, Fatima Adly, that originally contacting me asking for clarification on how different parts of the Arduino Sun Tracking / Heliostat Program worked. The same algorithm that calculates the sun’s position and heliostat angles is in fact incorporated into their program. They also added much more to the program such as wireless control via PC and tablet along with a backup tracking system.

I’m not sure what the breakdown of responsibilities were, but Fatima does seem to have done her fair share of the work. For example, there was more than one instance of her contacting me around 4:00am (her timezone) to try and work out one bug or another. When exactly she slept I do not know, but one thing that is clear is that she is a extremely hard worker!

The pdf and code files below were provided by Fatima.

Here is the PDF of the poster they used at their presentation. This is probably the best explanation for how it all worked.

Here’s is a zip file containing all of the files provided by Fatima. Note that the code is saved as a docx file which opens in Word. You’ll have to copy and paste it in an Arduino program if you want to try and get it to actually run. Heliostat Project – Khalifa University

The following pictures were taken from the above poster. There is a ton more info in the poster, but a sampling is provided here for those of you who are too lazy to follow the link. 😉

Here’s a picture of one of the heliostats.


Here is a picture of the collector.


And finally, here is a picture of the Android app that controls them.


The following information on this project is taken from the video link’s description.

Wireless Control of Self Sustained Solar Power Generation System

Participating Students:
1. Nourhan Bayasi, Electronic and Electrical Engineering
2. Rawan Al-Kurd, Electronic and Electrical Engineering
3. Fatima Adly, Electronic and Electrical Engineering
4. Ghada Shubair, Electronic and Electrical Engineering
5. Rola Al-Muhainy, Electronic and Electrical Engineering

1. Dr. Reyad El-Khazali, Associate Prof., Electronic and Electrical Engineering
2. Dr. Ibrahim Abu Alhaoul, Assistant Prof., Electronic and Electrical Engineering

Project Description:
This project combines wireless technology, along with computing capabilities, to design and implement a wirelessly-controlled, self-sustained solar power generation system,

The system is composed of a heliostat model of three reflectors which reflect the sunlight onto a receiver, and three Fresnel lenses that focus the reflected light onto a heat exchanger which produces pressurized steam that rotates a turbine-generator unit. The system is wirelessly monitored and controlled using a proportional-integral-derivative control algorithm. A graphical user interface unit is designed to monitor the whole system using either a PC or a Tablet PC to introduce mobility to the system. A photovoltaic (PV) solar cell unit is used to generate the necessary power to make the system self-sustainable.

The control algorithm is designed to track the sun and control a number of reflectors by controlling the altitude and the azimuth angles of the heliostat to focus the sun rays onto a central heat exchanger to produce dry and pressurized steam to rotate a steam turbine. A feedback mechanism is used to update the microcontroller with the status of the reflectors and to protect the system from any failures. The system is designed to support two modes of operations; a real time tracking system, and a GPS based system. This adds more flexibly and robustness to the system. The system is also supported by means of security features to authenticate the access to the system and these features include encryption, passwords, and alarms.

Objective & Applications:
This system allows us to harvest solar power by focusing sunlight onto a heat exchanger that produces pressurized dry steam in order to rotate a turbine in order to produce electrical power. It is a clean source of energy and does not emit carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

Awards & Achievements:
1- Best Poster Award, Undergraduate Research Conference (5th URC2013) Zayed University, Dubai Campus
May 1 – 2, 2013,
2- 2nd -Place; Prototype Project competition,
Engineering Student Renewable Energy
Competition ESREC 2013, UAEU, May 4, 2013

Khalifa University’s website: www.kustar.ac.ae 

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