The FlexForm Collector was invented in 1979 for Mr. Alexander’s Master Thesis in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. The thesis describes how a small collector model was made and how its optical performance was compared with computer analysis. Mr. Alexander constructed and successfully tested two computer controlled prototypes in 1981 – one prototype of about 100 square meters, and the other of about 20 square meters shown in the photo. Further development was halted due to the lack of critical supporting technologies at the time, in particular a suitable reflective membrane. The aluminized mylar used in the prototype had insufficient lifetime. High performance, long life reflective membranes are now available.
Current development work consists of COMSOL simulations to re-verify mechanical and optical properties,
as well as construction of a bench level prototype for device validation and demonstration.
Progressively larger prototypes will be constructed and tested on the path to utility scale production.