Israel-based Aora Solar has partnered with Arizona State University to develop a hybrid concentrated solar system that will have Solar Tulip to be installed on the Tempe campus in the US.

Advanced by ASU LightWorks, the collaboration is aimed at enhancing the efficiency of the hybrid concentrated solar system.

The LightWorks team provided the vision of required research, identified the multiple research windows in which Aora Solar will participate and is intimately involved in moving the project from concept to fruition.

Under the collaboration, Aora Solar and a multi-disciplinary ASU team will work to research options for increasing efficiency, improve reliability, utilise the exhaust heat and decrease the cost of the Solar Tulip technology.

As part of the project, Aora Solar will install a demonstration power plant, which includes approximately 100ft high Solar Tulip tower, on undeveloped land near the Karsten Golf Course in Tempe.

The power plant will have a collection of mirrors to concentrate the sun’s rays to heat compressed air to more than 1,800° F and drive a gas turbine. The Tulip system has a rated output of 100kW of electricity and an additional 170kW of thermal energy.

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Aora Solar claims that the system generates power 24/7, moving seamlessly from solar to natural gas or biogas and is also promising because it uses little to no water while producing a high quality thermal output in addition to power.

The Tulip system, at night, or when overcast, can use a wide range of fuels to heat the air and is thereby able to produce power and heat round the clock. Its modular design allows for multiple Tulips to work together, enabling the technology to match growing electric demand requirements.

"The system generates power 24/7, moving seamlessly from solar to natural gas or biogas."

According to ASU, the collaboration will not only bring ASU closer to its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2025, but it will also benefit students and researchers across multiple fields of study.

ASU LightWorks director Gary Dirks noted the Aora/ASU collaboration provides a multitude of possibilities looking forward.

"It is a perfect example of industry and academia coming together and leveraging their unique strengths to create collaborative projects that propel new and viable technology into our energy future. The Solar Tulip has enormous potential both at ASU and beyond," Dirks said.

GreenFuel Technologies has been contracted by Aora Solar to construct the research plant at the ASU campus. Groundbreaking on the plant is anticipated to occur in April 2014, with the anticipated operation date in the late September/early October time frame.

Image: ASU and AORA Solar have partnered to install Solar Tulip on ASU’s Tempe campus. Photo: courtesy of Arizona State University.