HepcoMotion ring systems are proving very successful in suntracking applications due to their robust construction and because they need no lubrication.
Suntracking is an important development in the efficient generation of renewable energy and a growing application sector for motion specialist HepcoMotion. Its ring systems are increasingly in demand for use as the actuators onto which solar panels or mirrors are mounted to follow the sun. These products are eminently suitable for this purpose due to their ability to withstand high temperatures and dust ingress, and because they need no lubrication.
Although the market for solar cells has shown growth rates of up to 40 per cent for several years, the industry is striving to make its products as efficient as possible to retain its share of the global energy market. Many installations use fixed cells, where the cells are permanently orientated towards the point at which the sun is at its highest position in the sky, providing the greatest concentration of energy. Clearly the downside is that these systems are less efficient at capturing energy during other times of the day.
Suntracking is a method that is increasingly being adopted to enhance the efficiency of the solar cell by continuously optimising the cell's position in relation to the sun. And the HepcoMotion ring system is proving to be particularly beneficial at harnessing the additional energy. It is used to achieve a pan and tilt arrangement to keep the cell orientated towards the sun as it tracks the sky.
Another variation on the same theme is the use of mirrors that direct the solar energy onto a central photovoltaic cell. And as these mirrors are often heavy assemblies, the HepcoMotion ring is particularly suited to this relatively arduous application.
HepcoMotion is a leading innovator in the field of circular and continuous motion. New production methods allow the company to produce single-piece rings up to 1.8m in diameter and also distortion-free ring segments that ensure both concentricity and smooth running of the product. These new manufacturing processes have also substantially reduced lead times.
Complementing these large rings are higher-capacity bearings that have also been developed by HepcoMotion. At its plant in Essex, the company now manufactures bearings up to 150mm diameter that individually can take loads of several tons.
HepcoMotion rings are suitable for operation in temperature extremes and hostile environments. Their vee profile provides a self-cleaning action that eliminates contaminants, such as dust, from the slideway. The inherently low friction of the design means that in most cases dry running is possible with no lubrication needed between the slide and wheels.
All these benefits are helpful for suntracking applications, as these systems are typically installed in hot, arid and often dusty atmospheres, and also in locations where minimal maintenance is a prerequisite.
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