Parabolic Mirrors Information Parabolic mirrors offer excellent correction of spherical aberration. Parabolic mirrors can either be on-axis or off-axis. On-axis parabolic mirrors produces collimated reflected light. Off-axis parabolic mirrors focus reflected light to a focal point off-axis. An important dimension to consider is the diameter. The diameter of the mirror if viewed straight on can also be thought of as the height. Another important parameter is the focal length. Focal length is the...
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Q & A on Parabolic Mirrors

We asked our users for their input on Parabolic Mirrors. Here are the results of 202 users familiar with Parabolic Mirrors.

Who Took Our Poll? | Design Trends | Applications and Use | Features | Buying Advice

Who Took Our Poll?Top

Design TrendsTop

Q:
What new technologies are influencing parabolic mirror design?
33 answers
Answers:
New substrate materials, computer controlled grinding, laser machining, coated reflective material.
~Gavin M, Faculty/Staff, New Westminster, Canada

The aperture for conventional mirrors is getting limited and it is very expensive to make mirrors of apertures more than 6 m. Reflective film technology is still in testing phase, and is not used at a commercial level. Another technology is with thin glass using a top protective layer of Aluminium Oxide.

~Engineering, Design, Mumbai, India
Technologies involving cheaper and more efficient polishing of larger mirrors influence design.
~Timothy B, Student, Boulder, CO
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Q:
From your perspective, which companies are creating the most innovative parabolic mirrors?
18 answers
Answers:
Flabeg has supplied to a good number of plants. Guardian, Saint Gobain, Rio glass all are trying to improve their technologies. Reflec tech and 3M are also in the queue to be competent in the market with their reflective film technology.
~Engineering, Design, Mumbai, India
Flabeg is a worldwide distributor of solar parabolic mirrors for use in CSP, concentrating solar power, applications. This company is marketing their product towards a growing market.
~Timothy B, Student, Boulder, CO
I have yet to find a company that offers a parabolic mirror with a damage threshold high enough to stand up to our laser.
~Kyle F, Research & Development, Dayton, OH
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Applications and UseTop

Q:
What are some of the applications you have used a parabolic mirror for?
65 answers
Answers:

IR and THz beam extractor. IR and THz Beam condenser for Synchrotron-based Interferometer.

~Manceron L, Research & Development, Saint Aubbin, France
Constructing scientific devices with mirrors up to 30" diameter; including parabolic mirrors in lab bench product design processes; experimenting with materials for the construction of mirrors; designing upcoming volume consumer products with embedded parabolic and other curved mirrors.
~Sheldon Z, President and Chief Scientist, Vancouver, Canada

I use parabolic mirrors in solar thermal energy, building and designing parabolic trough and parabolic disc to produce process heat or electricity.

~Engineering, Design, cuernavaca, Mexico
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Q:
Please share with us any “non-standard” applications that a parabolic mirror has been used for.
22 answers
Answers:
A spinning pool of mercury has been used as a large aperture telescope. You can only look straight up with it unless you add a steering mirror. And you need to isolate it from vibration, including that caused by the rotation mechanism. I don't think anyone has tried an eddy-current drive. Oooh, patentable?
~Brian R, Systems Engineer, Santa Barbara, CA

It hasn't been used yet for personal residential electricity generation. Combine a trough parabolic mirror with a linear Fresnel lens and a 10kwatt low temp ener-g-rotor unit and you could supply a home with almost no mechanical parts. Cost is the only problem. Let's make the problems stop. That's what we do, solve problems.

~Aaron C, Thinker, problem solver, father and off the gridster., Glens falls, NY

Emergency fire starting kit for outdoor enthusiasts and campers. Pool heating with parabolic mirrors recessed into the pool deck. Portable water heating for outdoor enthusiasts or campers. Portable water distillation and sterilization for impoverished countries.

~Timothy B, Student, Boulder, CO
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Q:
Do you know of any disastrous mistakes that occurred due to the incorrect usage of a parabolic mirror?
11 answers
Answers:
The Hubble comes to mind, and the lesson is not to cave on testing under time and cost pressure. "Hail Mary" is not a successful product design strategy.
~Sheldon Z, President and Chief Scientist, Vancouver, Canada

We have seen commercial cassegrain optics that do not work well because of the lack of adjustment possibilities of the mirrors and / or the receiver in the focus.

~Thorsten K, Research & Development, Pfinztal, Germany

Folks get severe burns and permanent eye/vision damage. The extreme heat can create explosions with improper use.

~Terry W, Research & Development, Satsuma, FL
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FeaturesTop

Q:
What would your design or feature wish list be for this product?
34 answers
Answers:

First: a flat mirror attached to the parabola to help align it. Second: for off-axis parabola, better precision for high off-axis/angle. The manufacturing precision is good for small off-axis angle but can be really problematic for high angle (up to 90 degrees).

~Alexis C, Post-Doc, Princeton, NJ
Small sub-reflector to move focal point behind the mirror.
~Robert C, Design Engineer, Irene, South Africa
90% reflectance, light weight, easy to maintain, durability, and all at low cost.
~Aaron C, Thinker, problem solver, father and off the gridster., Glens falls, NY
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Q:
Is there any advice you want to share with users to help them avoid common errors in selection or usage of a parabolic mirror?
7 answers
Answers:
The construction material of a mirror is principally just to give the thing shape. In product design applications, look carefully at your true requirements in substrate shape, thickness and material in order to manage your cost profile, and talk to the suppliers. The mirror you need may be a variation of the ones in the catalogs.
~Sheldon Z, President and Chief Scientist, Vancouver, Canada
Mounting and adjusting is very important and must be planned carefully.
~Thorsten K, Research & Development, Pfinztal, Germany
Keep away from any gasses and combustible materials.
~Terry W, Research & Development, Satsuma, FL
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Buying AdviceTop

Q:
Do you have any advice for people relative to buying or using parabolic mirrors?
12 answers
Answers:
1. Evaluate carefully the planned temperature environment of the mirror vis-a-vis material of construction. 2. Use your optical modeling software to fully understand the intended result, especially in imaging applications.
~Sheldon Z, President and Chief Scientist, Vancouver, Canada
Yes Safety ! Use welding grade glasses. Get educated on what 2500 degrees beam will do. Never leave unattended. Don't let kids use them.
~Terry W, Research & Development, Satsuma, FL

Prefer troughs with rather small aperture dimension, choose weatherproof coatings, check the shape efficiency of the trough.

~John K, Design Engineer, Athens, Greece
Select the largest aperture you can afford, you will generally end up using it over the lifetime of the mirror.
~Brian R, Systems Engineer, Santa Barbara, CA
Pay special attention to mirror coating and material used in making the mirror.
~Mark Y, Manufacturer, Phx, AZ
Do a thorough survey of what is available now or could be made to your specs.
~Phil Z, Manufacturer, Long Beach, CA
Very good for focusing but difficult to align.
~Galiya S, PhD student, AUSTRALIA
Better be used to align them correctly.
~Alexis C, Post-Doc, Princeton, NJ
The energy from the sun is free.
~Vicente S, Engineer, Aguascalientes, Mexico
Durable, light weight
~anton G, Research & Development, jakarta, Indonesia
Reflectability
~George H, Builder/Contractor, Ruidoso Downs, NM
Efficiency
~daniel P, Design Engineer, west ryde, GA


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