Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

CleanTechnica

Consumer Technology

Backyard Solar Dish Melts Steel

We’re all familiar with the vast solar thermal power stations in the desert that use mirrors to make steam to drive turbines. Giant solar thermal arrays are already making electricity in the desert in Spain and California. But what if we could have just one of these units in the backyard, just for our own use?

That’s what motivated a team of MIT students to find the way to make the cheapest solar power station out there. Mass produce it for the home user and market it under their own new start up RawSolar.

Sure, it melts steel. But even more practically for the home owner, it makes steam in a flash:

By directing the dish at the more typical target for solar thermal power stations – water – you create steam instantly. Steam that could drive your own little turbine, making your own little supply of electricity. Or you could direct it to supplying heat for a floorboard radiator setup or a radiant flooring system. Initially the team is not using the steam to make electricity, like the desert arrays. But that will be next, I’m sure.

Solar thermal power stations are far more inexpensive and efficient than solar pv, because they’re just made of mirrors held up in a metal structure. The energy of typical sunlight can be concentrated by a factor of 1,000.

The team assembled this 12-foot dish in several weeks. The design is exceedingly simple and inexpensive. The frame is composed of aluminum tubing and mirrors are attached to it. The steam is relatively low temperature steam – at about 212 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit; not the 700 degrees steam the desert arrays make.

The team comprised Spencer Ahrens, a MIT mechanical engineering graduate, Sloan MBA Micah Sze, UC Berkeley mechanical engineering grad Eva Markiewicz, Olin College student Matt Ritter and MIT materials science student Anna Bershteyn.


Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.
 
 
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Pages: 1 2

Written By

writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today and Renewable Energy World.  She has also been published at Wind Energy Update, Solar Plaza, Earthtechling PV-Insider , and GreenProphet, Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.

Comments

#1 most loved electric vehicle, solar energy, and battery news & analysis site in the world.

 

Support our work today!

Advertisement

Power CleanTechnica: $3/Month

Tesla News Solar News EV News Data Reports

Advertisement

EV Sales Charts, Graphs, & Stats

Advertisement

Our Electric Car Driver Report

30 Electric Car Benefits

Tesla Model 3 Video

Renewable Energy 101 In Depth

solar power facts

Tesla News

EV Reviews

Home Efficiency

You May Also Like

Climate Change

En-ROADS from MIT and Ventana Systems is an interactive climate science tool that lets anyone explore how making changes to the environment can help...

Batteries

A research team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has taken a deep dive look into lithium-ion battery costs. Grab your wetsuit and...

Cars

For two decades now, the mainstream press has been feeding peoples’ natural skepticism about new technology, dismissing electric vehicles as a quaint fad that...

Clean Power

Commonwealth Fusion Systems says it plans to build a compact, affordable fusion reactor that will begin generating electricity in 10 years.

Copyright © 2021 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.