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Cooking Solar

A few days ago, Worldchanging had a piece on an arctic expedition that was looking for suggestions on how to reduce its use of fossil fuels. Among the responses, there was a comment on parabolic cookers, which are a type of solar oven. The basic premise behind such devices is quite simple: reflect and focus sunlight from a much wider area onto a much smaller area, and condense the density of energy, thereby creating a powerful heating device. Some of such devices boast the ability to boil a pot of water in less than 10 minutes. My mind, as it often does, began to bubble endlessly with possible uses of reflective heaters:

  • Solar BBQs
  • Solar Powered Boiler Heat
  • Solar Powered Steam Turbine Power Generation

The latter two are actually not that practical. The only thing that a solar powered steam turbine could boast over a photovoltaic cell would be the fact that it could, in theory, be constructed without a complex and precise manufacturing line. It would also not require silicon. Its efficiency would not be overly great, however. The solar boiler presents significant logistical problems as well (e.g., how to best design a reflector that would maximize the reflected light with a minimum of movement), but I like the idea, if mostly for its Tesla-esque possibilities. They could be used in unison as well: the boiler heats the steam, which turns the turbine, but which also warms the greenhouse.

If my ideas on the matter seem pathetically grandiose, consider this fellow’s site. He’s got plans for an infinitely extensible array. Joy! One might even construct a Solar Death Ray and train it on unwitting bits of garbage. Personally, I find glassing ants to offer a bit more of a thrill.

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