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LightManufacturing creates 1st IoT heliostat, solar-powered manufacturing processes
By Brianna Crandall, September 28, 2015—Central Coast California solar technology start-up LightManufacturing has developed a unique line of sun-tracking heliostats (computer-controlled solar mirrors) that the company says is the first heliostat that connects to the Internet for simple cloud-based configuration and aiming, making it "the first Internet of Things (IoT) heliostat."
According to the firm, a two-year effort yielded the easy-to-use H1 heliostat — a simple, industrial-grade heliostat that is efficient to deploy in small arrays. No software is required to use the H1, just a Web browser on a computer or smartphone.
For greater heat intensity, customers can order the Vacuum Focus Mirror option, a patent pending field-adjustable mirror, which according to the firm can focus most of the reflected energy onto a circle.
LightManufacturing exhibited at the Solar Power International (SPI) expo in Anaheim last week, showing new applications for solar energy and a unique set of products to the massive industry conference.
"We're not a PV company," explains founder Karl von Kries. "We don't make electricity. Instead, we use concentrated solar heat to replace fossil fuels in industry. For example, we've learned how to mold water tanks and boats using solar thermal energy at a fraction of the cost."
The company has reportedly molded thousands of commercial-grade plastic parts for private clients at the company's research facility. The firm's Solar Rotational Molding (SRM) process recently received U.S. Patent protection, and the company is targeting several industrial processes for conversion to real-time solar heat.
LightManufacturing's unique vision for solar thermal in industry won the firm a slot at the competitive "Start-Up Alley" section of the massive Solar Power International show, and landed the company a chance to present at the even-more-selective Start-up Alley Challenge competition among four finalists.