Skip to content Skip to navigation

Top 10 Award Given to Solar Device Based on UC Merced Professor’s Work

November 10, 2004

MERCED — A solar water-heating system based on non-imaging optics technology pioneered by Professor Roland Winston of the University Of California, Merced, received a prestigious award today from the editors of GreenSpec and Environmental Building News. The Winston Series CPC Collector, manufactured by Solargenix Energy, has been selected as one of the Top 10 Green Building Products of 2004.

The award was announced this morning at the Greenbuild Conference in Portland, Oregon.

“Reflected in our Top-10 list this year is concern about energy,” said GreenSpec coeditor Alex Wilson. The Winston Series CPC Collector is one of four energy-related products on the list. It is the only solar collector on the list and was chosen for its innovative, high-tech design, editors said.

“Non-imaging optics manifests some very elegant math, and that's what I enjoy most,” said Winston, who developed the non-imaging optics technology used for the collector when he was a professor at the University of Chicago. “The fact that it is also useful is great. It makes high-temperature solar energy practical.”

Since 2003, Winston has been a member of the founding faculty in UC Merced's schools of Natural Science and Engineering.

“The award from GreenSpec and Environmental Building News further recognizes the excellence of Professor Winston's scientific and engineering research,” said Jeff Wright, Dean of Engineering at UC Merced. “We are extremely fortunate to have him on board at UC Merced and look forward to more engineering innovations resulting from his research.”

The Winston Series CPC Collector is a residential and commercial solar water-heating system. The basic system is made up of 12 small compound parabolic collectors (CPCs) that focus sunlight more intensely than traditional optics. CPCs can be thought of as “light funnels” that collect light from a large area of the sky, rather than from the direct rays of the sun. This means that the Winston Series CPC Collector does not require moving parts to track the sun.

From the CPC, energy is focused into absorber tubes filled with heat-transfer fluid, then moved to a hot water storage tank. A typical home would use one to three collectors, depending on the size of the hot water storage tank.

Roland Winston is considered an expert on non-imaging optics along with his longstanding work in particle physics. He has received numerous awards for his solar research, to which this new distinction will be added. Winston joined the founding faculty at UC Merced in the summer of 2003. He will be instrumental in developing the Energy Institute at UC Merced, which is currently being planned to facilitate interdisciplinary research in energy and fuels science.