Three dish-shaped solar thermal energy concentra tors for generating electrical power will be designed and built by General Electric Space Division of Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, and installed at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Solar Thermal Test Site at Edwards, California.

The 16-month contract was awarded to GE by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of Pasadena, California, for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). It is the second of two-phase DOE program aimed at development of low-cost, point focusing solar concentrator.

The three prototype concentrators will be 12 meters (40 feet) in diameter and will include the mechanism that allows the concentrator to track the sun.

A point-focusing solar concentrator directs mirror reflected solar radiation to centrally located heat absorber connected to heat-driven engine and generator. Using this concept, solar energy can provide electrical power to small communities and rural areas.

Heat absorbers and heat engine generators for the installation are being developed under separate contracts.

In addition to design, fabrication, and installa tion of the concentrators, GE will perform acceptance testing to demonstrate performance. Working with JPL, they will also assess the implications of mass production and cost potential of the system.

The goal of the program is to obtain the greatest thermal performance at the least cost. It is managed by JPL for the DOE's Solar Thermal Distributed Receiver Program. The work is being done for DOE under an interagency agreement with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

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