A rotary test bench for parabolic trough collector components, KONTAS,  was erected at Plataforma Solar de Almería in 2009. The concept was developed by DLR and within the framework of the Spanish-German agreement between CIEMAT and DLR, this test facility is now jointly used by both institutes.  

The test bench allows the qualification of all collector components and complete modules of a length of up to 20 m, i.e. structures, reflectors, receivers and flexible joints. It enables for a tracking at any desired angle of incidence of the solar radiation. It is equipped with high precision instrumentation and controls for precise, quick and automated measurements.

The test bench rests on rails directly mounted on top of the foundation. These rails form an inner and an outer ring. The collector itself is mounted on a steel platform with six steel wheels. The rotation of the platform on the rails around the central bearing is performed by motors driving four of these wheels.

The collector module is connected to a heating and cooling unit, which is also situated on the platform. A pump circulates Syltherm 800®* thermal oil as heat transfer fluid (HTF) with a mass flow similar to that of commercial plants. Mass flow is measured directly using the Coriolis measuring principle avoiding uncertainties of the density. The heating and cooling unit dissipates the energy the hot HTF collected on the way through the module and ensures a constant HTF temperature (±1K) at the inlet of the collector. Sensors for measurement of inlet and outlet temperatures are highly precise and may be calibrated on site. A high precision meteorological station delivers accurate radiation and wind data.

Side view of Kontas test bench and the heating cooling unit.