Patent approved for Mechatron Solar’s dual-axis tracker mechanism (here’s what’s cool about it)

Mechatron Solar has been approved for a U.S. patent for its dual-axis tracker, which utilizes a gearless, zero-backlash technology with a double brake design. This unique mechanism rotates the massive 90-panel platform around the azimuth axis with a high degree of accuracy and is less susceptible to wear and failure. Let’s learn a little more about it.

Mechatron flagship tracker, the M18KD, has provided an availability of 99.97% uptime since its market deployment in 2008 across a fleet of 90 MW in North America and Europe. The company offers a low-cost warranty of this performance. It is the largest dual-axis tracker in the global solar market, with a panel table that supports 90 solar panels of 144-cells each.

With a single mast, the tracker offers a high energy density and yield when compared to solutions using the same number and type of panels. The M18KD also has the smallest ground footprint in the industry, permitting dual use of the land for parking, agriculture, grazing and other uses.

The now-patented gearless, zero backlash, single-line ball bearing ring design has been proven in extreme weather locations with high winds, ranging from desert to freezing locales, and has performed well in conditions where geared trackers demonstrate cracking and failure. The rotation mechanism meets the needs for high accuracy in movement, rigidity, and adjustable functions, while eliminating play and backlash.

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The zenith or North-South axis actuation of the M18KD tracker is performed with standardized hydraulic components that have been refined for sub-zero operations. The zenith axis can move from a flat position to a maximum of 70 degrees of inclination, which facilitates snow and soiling shedding. The azimuth axis can rotate 360 degrees. The performance of the tracker is enhanced by an advanced astronomical algorithm software platform, GPS and other sensor capabilities.

The azimuthal axis rotates with a stepped approach that can be compared to the walk of a caterpillar in a sequence of “Catch-Move-Release-Return” movements, imparting an advanced safety feature. The design of the central brake makes the system highly durable and virtually unbreakable.

The company recently announced two new models also based on the same gearless, zero-backlash technology. The new M16KD agriculture model features extra spacing between vertical panel stacks to permit more light to reach crops beneath the tracker. The new M10KD residential model features a reduced size table of 49 panels, to better fit into limited space requirements.

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