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A trough in automotive sense refers to a type of solar thermal collector used in concentrating solar power (CSP) systems. It can be apart of the electricity production process to charge E.V.s


A trough is a long, curved, parabolic-shaped mirror or reflector that concentrates sunlight onto a receiver tube positioned along its focal line. These trough-shaped collectors are usually arranged in rows and track the sun along one axis (usually east-west) to maximize solar exposure throughout the day.


  1. Reflective Surface: The trough’s surface is made of highly reflective materials, such as polished metal or specialized mirrors, to efficiently concentrate sunlight onto the receiver tube.
  2. Receiver Tube: Positioned along the focal line of the trough, the receiver tube contains a heat-transfer fluid, typically a synthetic oil or molten salt, which absorbs the concentrated solar energy and reaches high temperatures.
  3. Support Structure: The trough assembly is mounted on a support structure that allows it to pivot and track the sun’s movement along one axis throughout the day.


  1. Solar Concentration: As sunlight strikes the reflective surface of the trough, it is concentrated and focused onto the receiver tube, significantly increasing the intensity of solar radiation.
  2. Heat Absorption: The concentrated sunlight heats the heat-transfer fluid flowing through the receiver tube, raising its temperature to several hundred degrees Celsius.
  3. Heat Exchange: The heated fluid is then circulated to a heat exchanger, where its thermal energy is transferred to a working fluid, such as water or steam, to produce high-pressure steam.
  4. Electricity Generation: The high-pressure steam is used to drive a turbine generator, producing electricity. Alternatively, the thermal energy can be stored in thermal storage systems for later use or converted into other forms of energy.


  1. High Efficiency: Trough collectors can achieve high levels of solar concentration, resulting in efficient heat transfer and energy conversion.
  2. Scalability: Trough-based CSP systems can be scaled up to large utility-scale power plants, making them suitable for commercial electricity generation.
  3. Thermal Storage: The heat-transfer fluid can be stored in insulated tanks for several hours, allowing CSP plants to generate electricity even when sunlight is not available.


Trough-based CSP systems are primarily used for large-scale electricity generation in utility-scale power plants. They are often deployed in sunny regions with high direct normal irradiance (DNI) and suitable land availability for solar installations.

Trough collectors are an important component of concentrating solar power systems, allowing for efficient solar energy capture and electricity generation. By concentrating sunlight onto receiver tubes, trough collectors enable the production of high-temperature heat for various industrial processes or the generation of electricity in utility-scale power plants.

See Related Terms:

  • Parabolic Trough
  • Wiring Trough
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