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Inventors: Solar Dish Could Revolutionize Energy Production

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posted on Jun, 19 2008 @ 11:47 PM
Solar Dish Could Revolutionize Energy Production

A new type of solar energy collector concentrates the sun into a beam that could melt steel. Researchers say the device could revolutionize global energy production.

The prototype is a 12-foot-wide mirrored dish was made from a lightweight frame of thin, inexpensive aluminum tubing and strips of mirror. It concentrates sunlight by a factor of 1,000 to produce steam.

Once in mass production, such arrays should pay for themselves within two years or so with the energy they produce, the students figure.

Talk about a possible major breakthrough. First, the materials needed to build the dish are widely available and inexpensive. Second, if it pays for itself within 2 years, that would make it commercially available to pretty much everyone. Currently, solar cells take roughly 7 years to pay for themselves I believe. Might not be a bad company to invest in down the road.

posted on Jun, 20 2008 @ 12:03 AM
But what if we use up all the sun?

Sorry, couldnt help myself. This is very interesting, it kind of falls under the category of 'so simple it got overlooked". I would think this could catch on very easily and become much more mainstream. The only problem I see for using in a residential sutuation is that the price of a steam turbine to convert the steam to electricity and the batteries to store it could get expensive.

Also, would it be blinding for a pilot to fly through it's reflection? Not sure how close you would have to be to be affected by it....

posted on Jun, 20 2008 @ 12:04 AM
Thats interesting. and timely.
What I like about it is the LACK of technology required.
It's simply a series of parabola's, instead of one single mirror.

there is a video of the dish in action here:

posted on Jun, 20 2008 @ 12:13 AM
reply to post by SystemiK

Hey, maybe they could blend this with Stirling engine technology?
There is a plant going up in the southwest.

Not sure of the cost of a smaller Stirling engine for residential use. But whatever fluid is used, is in a closed circuit. So there would be no water usage.

posted on Jun, 20 2008 @ 12:19 AM
reply to post by SystemiK

Yeah, residential use might be a ways off, but it could definitely be used as an alternative for powering the grid. I'm sure if you set up an array you could power a city no problem. If they can do it in Seville Spain then this idea should work. Plus, with it being so cheap to build, our electric bills might actually be at a reasonable level again someday. All I gotta say is do it.

posted on Jun, 20 2008 @ 02:38 AM
Nice post.

Very interesting I think. It's one thing to use a reflective surface to light a cigarette or start a campfire, it's quite another to drive a turbine.

posted on Jun, 20 2008 @ 07:35 AM
I know its not a nice thing to suggest but this could be turned into a new type of weapon at some stage.
It seems that no matter how noble your intentions for inventions you create that there will always be someone who wants to turn it into a weapon and i doubt that this will be any different.

posted on Jun, 20 2008 @ 08:07 AM
It's very cool (oh sorry very STEAMY).

The question I have is......what happens when a pipe breaks?

Will the steam burn the kids' in the backyard playing?

Not 100% sure.....but if steam is involved you may need an on site engineer...and that could be costly.

Maybe the dish is to big and gets' to hot....why take it to such a high temperature....why not make smaller and say take to 130/140 degrees so you get heating for dometic water heating etc. but to take to such a high temperature of steam is very very risky just to make electricity and not to mention as another above has change steam to electricity is very expensive.

Your Canadian friend,


posted on Jun, 20 2008 @ 10:56 PM
reply to post by spacedoubt

I had thought about using something similar to this to run a sterling engine, but instead of using water, using oil of some type like vegetable oil instead because you can transfer much more heat.

posted on Jun, 21 2008 @ 08:08 AM
cooking oil?
i'm coming over for the grud

You may want to look into "glycol" this is used in piping to keep freezing at bay (if your in a cold climate). Plus glycol good with transfering energy.

Never heard using "cooking oil" but I def. ask around find out.

Your Canadian friend,


posted on Jun, 22 2008 @ 12:51 AM
reply to post by svenglezz

I'm more than a thousand miles south of you so I don't have the freezing problems that you would. The link for the vegetable oil is very basic, but it shows the difference in boiling points of glycol and vegetable oil.


vegetable oil

This shows that you can get a lot higher boiling point from the vegetable oil than you can from glycol.

posted on Jun, 22 2008 @ 02:29 AM
kind of reminds of the episode the myth busters used to prove an ancient ship can be set ablaze using parabolic mirrors. There was an MIT professor present with his students at the time to prove this myth. I wonder if it is the same team

Death Ray

[edit on 22-6-2008 by prionace glauca]

posted on Jun, 22 2008 @ 04:02 PM
Did you notice in the video that the dish has to be repositioned manually?

There is going to have to be added cost for a sun tracking program, or device.

I'll bet there is a very simple way to do it, but I didn't go to MIT.

posted on Jun, 24 2008 @ 12:21 AM
That is hardly new, but a more exotic solar collector is a phase-conjugated focus that doesn't require sun tracking, and instead of a stirling engine, you use an MHD generator, like this one I invented:

posted on Jun, 25 2008 @ 11:57 PM
absolutly nothing new, the japanese were doing the same thing in the 70's.
There is actually a working power station using this method to generate power. Its in the Mojave desert of california.
Its a good idea that has excellent applications, in the right environment.
There is no one solution to the worlds energy needs, but many solutions that can be optimized for use in the appropriate applications.
It will be the mix of many overlapping technologies that will be most effective.
Tidal energy, wind power, geothermal, hydro-electric, solar power in all its myriad of forms should be made maximum use of.
In the last few weeks I've spent a few day driving in nevada, and I was surprised to find a large number of geothermal energy plants.
A large local snack chip manufacturer has installed a solar heating system for its cooking oil.
One new system that I am particularly fond of, uses a differential in sea water temp, to generate electricity and fresh water.
It only realy works in the tropics and sub-tropics, but is very ingeneous.
There is a floating platform off-shore, the platform has several clear "vacuum vapor domes" . Warm surface water is pumped under high pressure into the clear vapor domes, which are under vacumm, where it turns to steam and drives turbines to generate electricity. The steam is then pumped into condensors in deeper cooler water, where it is condensed into fresh water. The fresh water is then pumped onshore for use.

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