Last updated: November 15, 2014
I am traveling around the world and trying to teach people in poor communities how they can build their own solar thermal technology. I am currently working on homemade solar thermal powered car that my girlfriend and I will use to continue your trip around the world. We are hoping the solar thermal car with its large mirrors will create interest in people to build their own solar thermal cookers.
News and recent developments
- Aug 29, 2013, Solar thermal powered car update, sun tracking complete and moving to a bigger test model- I have successfully tested sun tracking on my small solar thermal model. The sun tracking used the same controller, sun sensors, program and switches that will be used on the full scale solar thermal car. The sun tracking can move in both directions to track the sun while the car is driving. This video shows the sun tracking being tested outside. I have now completed all the testing possible on the small model (1ft by 2ft mirror). I will now be building 6ft wide 2ft long mirror model. This model will allow me to test parts in full scale for the solar thermal car. I can test sun tracking, glass vacuum tube insulation, oil pumping, salt heat storage, steam boiler, steam turbine and much more in full scale. I can test the temperatures the solar car will be able to produce. The power I get from the test stand will allow me to calculate the power for the solar thermal car. The picture of the larger test stand does not include the mirror that will be curved to the supports. Many different types of mirrors will be tested to find the best one for the solar thermal car.
- June 21, 2013 Baking bread by focusing light on a pipe using tin foil – I started by looking at the large solar thermal trough power plants. I thought: why can I not build small versions of this using cheap material? Using wood I was able to build a 0.66 m^2 aluminum foil mirror solar thermal device. I just used a metal fence post that I found lying around to absorb the concentrated heat from the sun. All I had to do was paint the pipe with high heat flat black spray paint. I really think this could be built in third world countries for very little money. I got two pop cans that I used to cap the ends of the pipe. When I pointed it into the sun and the pipe heated up to 162c, in less than 15 minutes. I then got the idea to cook a long piece of bread in the pipe. I made a small batch of bannock bread. I made a long piece of dough and lay it on tin foil and slid it into the hot pipe. In about half an hour the bread was baked just like it would have been in the oven just without using any fuel or electricity.
- June 1, 2013: Boiling noodles using the sun, and materials found in the garbage - I am currently in La Paz, Mexico testing different applications and building material for solar thermal devices. For this project I wanted to build a solar cooker using only garbage. I found some strong cardboard in the garbage as well as a cereal box and a small piece of plywood. I cut out two parabola shapes from the thick cardboard and then bend the cereal box to form a curved surface. I covered the cereal box in tin foil (I have also used chip bags which work well) to focus light on a spray can or pop can. The video is shown below. Then in order to create a small oven I cut a section out of a large pop can. I painted the pop can with high heat flat black paint. I kept the cut out section and painted it black and insulated it with silicon. I glued four small pieces of pop can to this lid to prevent it from falling into the can. When placed on the can it formed a nice insulating lid. I also covered both ends of the pop can with additional silicon to provide more insulation. As a test I filled up the pop can with a small amount of water and cooked a hand full of spaghetti. I also baked a small amount of bread in this unit. I used this test to prove to myself that a useful solar cooker can be made almost exclusively out of garbage. I then moved back to my much larger solar unit to further explore all the uses for solar thermal.