How to Download and Use Soltrace for Concentrating Solar Power Systems
Soltrace is a software tool developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to model concentrating solar power (CSP) systems and analyze their optical performance. It can also be used to model and characterize many general optical systems. In this article, we will show you how to download and use Soltrace for your CSP projects.
What is Soltrace
Soltrace is a Monte-Carlo ray-trace code that can simulate the optical behavior of complex CSP systems with multiple stages and elements. It can account for a wide range of aperture and surface descriptions, such as circular, rectangular, polygonal, or user-defined shapes, as well as flat, curved, or toroidal surfaces. It can also handle various types of errors and optical properties, such as surface slope error, reflectivity, transmissivity, absorptivity, and specularity.
Soltrace can provide detailed information on the optical performance of a CSP system, such as the flux distribution on the receiver, the optical efficiency, the intercept factor, the image size and shape, the ray position and direction, and the optical losses. It can also display the results using embedded graphical visualization tools or export them to external files for further analysis.
How to Download Soltrace
Soltrace is available for Windows (32-bit and 64 bit), Linux (compiling via source code is most reliable), and Mac (OS X 10.6). You can download it for free from the NREL website[^1^] [^2^]. You will need to provide your name, email address, organization, and planned use of Soltrace. Your information will only be used to respond to your inquiry and will be retained indefinitely by NREL. For more information, see NREL's security and privacy notices[^1^].
After downloading Soltrace, you can install it by following the instructions in the user manual[^3^]. You will also need to install WEX[^3^], a toolkit that extends wxWidgets[^3^], a cross-platform GUI library that Soltrace uses. WEX provides additional features such as plotting, data tables, grid controls, etc.
How to Use Soltrace
Soltrace has a graphical user interface (GUI) that allows you to create and edit CSP system geometries, define optical properties and errors, run simulations, and view results. You can also use a scripting language to automate tasks and perform parametric analyses. The user manual[^3^] provides detailed instructions on how to use Soltrace's GUI and scripting features.
To start using Soltrace, you need to create a new project or open an existing one. A project consists of one or more stages that represent physical or virtual parts of a CSP system. Each stage can have multiple elements that define the shape, size, position, orientation, optical properties, and errors of apertures or surfaces. You can use predefined element types or create your own custom ones.
After defining the geometry of your CSP system, you need to specify the sun shape and position parameters, such as the solar disk diameter, the solar position vector or zenith and azimuth angles, and the number of rays to trace. You can also choose whether to trace rays from the sun to the receiver or vice versa.
Then you can run the simulation and view the results in various formats. You can plot the flux distribution on the receiver or any other element surface using contour plots or 3D plots. You can also view the ray data in tables or histograms. You can export the results to text files or images for further analysis.
Soltrace is a powerful software tool that can help you design and optimize CSP systems by modeling their optical performance. It is free to download and use from NREL's website[^1^] [^2^]. You can also find more information and resources on Soltrace's webpage[^3^], such as user manual[^3^], examples[^3^], FAQs[^3^], support[^3^], etc. ec8f644aee