Sunday, 29 June 2008

Parabolic Solar + Stirling Engine = Free (microgenerated & scalable) Energy
Ghost Dog (1000+ posts) Journal Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list Click to add this author to your Ignore list Sun Jun-29-08 03:17 PM
Original message
Parabolic Solar + Stirling Engine = Free (microgenerated & scalable) Energy
Edited on Sun Jun-29-08 03:20 PM by Ghost Dog
Article in the Inquirer:
MIT solar dish melts steel
Eat your heart out Archimedes
By Nick Farrell: Monday, 23 June 2008, 8:42 AM

MIT boffins have developed a parabolic collector which concentrates sunlight so intensely it can melt steel.

Despite the fact they are fairly simple to use, parabolic collectors have not been developed much as alternative energy sources. But the MIT boffins have worked out a way that they can make them super-efficient...

It focuses enough solar energy at its focal point to melt solid steel. When pointed at water steam is created...

Article in engadget:
MIT solar dish holds promise for low-cost energy production /
by Darren Murph, posted Jun 20th 2008 at 8:48AM

Look out 1366 Technologies, you've got yet another solar-based MIT spin-off company vying for business in the alternative energy sector. The company's name is RawSolar, and in due time it could end up selling solar dish arrangements that could power factories or even heat / cool office buildings. Recently, a team of students and faculty celebrated as a prototype dish proved that it could concentrate sunlight by a factor of 1,000, which obviously bodes well for converting that into useful energy here on Earth. Another standout feature of the dish is its small size, and furthermore, the material required to build it is relatively inexpensive and accessible worldwide. Sounds like all the ingredients for a successful startup are there, now we've just got to wait and see if anything becomes of it...

Now, observe these comments to the Inquirer piece:

old news
They claim there innovation is bending flat mirror's onto a frame instead of buying curved ones. Using square sections is far cheaper and simpler to build and achieves the same solar reflection if well aimed, I have no idea why this got a patent, funding or news coverage. It is no more efficient than existing 10 year+ old designs which I have built from scrap with one assistant. They also haven't even got motor powered sun tracking yet! A level students could do better than this with 20 mins looking for plans on google, come on MIT make something amazing!
posted by : tom, 23 June 2008
Been known a long time
A cover article in Popular Mechanics (or Science) over thirty years ago showed a parabolic reflector supplying heat to a Stirling cycle engine to generate electricity. They pointed out that it was at least twice as efficient as photovoltaics. Some day, someone might catch on.
posted by : J Smithson, 23 June 2008

So, Let's do something about it.

Sounds like the MIT spinoff is looking at using steam, but surely a well-designed Stirling Engine/generator set would be at least as efficient, more durable and cheaper to manufacture. Installations of the kind of size the MIT group has been working with are ideal for microgeneration at the domestic level and can be easilly scaled-up to community levels.

Rather than ask the usual question echoed above, "Why isn't this being done already?" (how the hell could the mirror itself be patented?) I''d prefer to propose a simple line of possibly effective action starting right here in this forum of DU.

The idea is simply to spread the idea, using the viral power of the internet. With plenty of interested people kicking the ball around, if the concept proves feaible then the application will be soon to follow. By spreading the concept in the public domain, open source-type projects can be developed by anyone anywhere in the world. The mirror can be built in almost any workshop. With only a little more tooling, the engine-generator set should ideally also be buildable in any average local developing-country engineering shop. Richer, more developed countries would be large markets for more sophisticated designs that could be mass-produced and packaged for the customer. Free-charge your plug-in hybrid. Guaranteed free-energy air-conditioning. Power your home. Anyone?

Let's kick the ball around here for a start. What do you think of it? Any here with a good grasp of Stirling Engine design for such an application? And spread the idea, please. Thanks.

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