Fastening Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) to Solar Reflectors

After watching a youtube video in which plastic bottles were converted to rope, Adam Lee wondered if this process could be useful for the production of solar reflectors. Could this waste be repurposed at scale without the use of fossil fuel energy? To better understand the properties of the bottle derived rope (PET), a series of tests were conducted. These tests quantified the mechanical strength of the rope, as well as the amount of elongation or stretch prior to breaking. The resulting data revealed the properties of the cordage, which appear to be a suitable choice for the suspension of solar reflectors.

In order for the rope to be effective for the suspension of solar reflectors, a method of anchoring is required. Ideally this anchoring would be achieved without additional material such as adhesives. The reflector, as well as the rope, are both PET polymers. Perhaps they could be fused together? To answer this question, a heat press was created. The heat press contains two heating elements, one on each pressure plate. The temperature of each plate is adjustable between 0-500C and self-regulates.The test samples are placed between the heated plates and pressure is applied through leverage. Two different bonding conditions are needed; rope-to-reflector and rope-to-rope. Preliminary results of the testing are promising and rope-to-reflector bond has been achieved. Rope-to-rope bond, however, has proved to be more difficult as excess heat causes shrinking and distortion. Adam is currently engineering and machining different press plates in an effort to focus heat input and minimize distortion.

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