Case 15058J

Biomimetic Spiral Pattern for Heliostat Layouts


Heliostat field, solar thermal systems, biomimetic, concentrated solar, central receiver, phyllotaxis


Central receiver solar-thermal power plants


Optimizing the heliostat field layout results in substantial cost savings


The invention presents a new model to calculate the optical efficiency of a heliostat field, accounting for all significant factors affecting the performance of central receiver solar thermal systems, like projection losses, shading and blocking, aberration and atmospheric attenuation. It also proposes an improved biomimetic pattern for heliostat placement, inspired by the spirals of the phyllotaxis disc pattern.

  • A model and a biomimetic pattern for heliostat layout optimization are introduced
  • Optimization results in improved heliostat field efficiency and ground coverage
  • The biomimetic pattern is based on the phyllotaxis disc pattern of plant life
  • The spiral pattern outperforms the popular radially staggered heliostat pattern
  • The land area required by solar fields is significantly reduced

  • Professor Alexander Mitsos (Department of Mechanical Engineering, MIT)
  • Professor Manuel Torrilhon (RWTH Aachen)
  • Corey Noone (Department of Mechanical Engineering, MIT)

Intellectual Property:

US Provisional Utility Patent 61/557540 filed November 9, 2011.


Corey J. Noone, Manuel Torrilhon, and A. Mitsos. Heliostat Field Optimization: A New Computationally Efficient Model and Biomimetic Layout. In Press: Solar Energy. December 09, 2011.

Corey J. Noone, Amin Ghobeity, A. H. Slocum, G. Tzamtzis, and A. Mitsos. Site Selection for Hillside Central Receiver Solar Thermal Plants. Solar Energy, 85(5):839-848. 2011.

Corey J. Noone and Alexander Mitsos. Heliostat Layout Optimization via Automatic Differentiation: Adjoints and Convex Relaxations. SIAM Computational Science and Engineering Conference, Reno,NV. 28 Feb–04 March 2011.

MIT News: Here comes the sun- A new sunflower-inspired pattern increases concentrated solar efficiency (1/11/2012).

Last revised: January 11, 2012

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