Skip to main content

Burnin' Wood Solar Style

Solar Dishes aren't normally used to burn wood, but that's exactly how MIT students recently tested their new type of solar energy collector. The wood promptly burst into flames and smoke.

The 12-foot wide dish is based on a design by inventor Doug Wood, who handed over the patent to MIT students, who then built a larger model using the same materials, aluminum tubing and strips of mirror.

The solar dish produces steam by concentrating sunlight up to a factor of 1,000. The mirrors that comprise the panel are cut into perfect parabolic shapes. Each parabola is pointed slightly differently, and is able to transform "pointed" light into strips.

Need a cup of steaming hot water? At the end of a 12-foot aluminum tube rising from the center of the dish is a coil of tubing that has water running through it. The cool water comes in through a hose, and is sent through a receiver tube and into a copper coil black-painted wire. The water is twirled around and around, letting all of the sun's rays burn on the coil. When the water is completely heated, it comes back out the receiver tube as steam.

The invention, as one can imagine, has huge implications for more efficient energy production. Our future cups of hot coffee might just be solar powered.


Popular Posts

How 4,000 Physicists Gave a Vegas Casino its Worst Week Ever

What happens when several thousand distinguished physicists, researchers, and students descend on the nation’s gambling capital for a conference? The answer is "a bad week for the casino"—but you'd never guess why.

Ask a Physicist: Phone Flash Sharpie Shock!

Lexie and Xavier, from Orlando, FL want to know: "What's going on in this video ? Our science teacher claims that the pain comes from a small electrical shock, but we believe that this is due to the absorption of light. Please help us resolve this dispute!"

The Science of Ice Cream: Part One

Even though it's been a warm couple of months already, it's officially summer. A delicious, science-filled way to beat the heat? Making homemade ice cream. (We've since updated this article to include the science behind vegan ice cream. To learn more about ice cream science, check out The Science of Ice Cream, Redux ) Image Credit: St0rmz via Flickr Over at Physics@Home there's an easy recipe for homemade ice cream. But what kind of milk should you use to make ice cream? And do you really need to chill the ice cream base before making it? Why do ice cream recipes always call for salt on ice?