In the framework of the National Laboratory of Solar Concentrating and Solar Chemistry Systems (LACYQS, for its Spanish acronym), a Heliostat Test Field (HTF) was built in México. This research facility is located 10 km away from the city of Hermosillo, in the state of Sonora. The main purpose of the HTF, at the present stage, is to serve as platform for the development and testing of heliostat technology.
In order to evaluate the performance of heliostats, various optical tests have been implemented. In the sun tracking test, the heliostat is operated as a solar tracker. A camera is attached to the heliostat, which is pointed directly to the sun. Images are captured throughout the day to quantify the wandering of the solar disc in the image. In the reflected spot test, the image produced on the Lambertian target by the concentrating heliostat, due to the reflection of the sun, is recorded by a CCD camera throughout the day. Image processing algorithms calculate the centroid of energy of the image and evaluate the position and wandering across the white screen at all times. After this information is gathered, and the influence of wind and external factors eliminated, data are interpreted to characterize the behavior of solar projection algorithms and mechanical components.
In the fringe projection analysis, also known as deflectometry, fringe patters are projected at night on a Lambertian target. The image of the pattern reflected by the heliostat is recorded with a camera. Distortions in the fringes, due to mirror stress and canting, allows the characterization of the surface error of the facets.