Sunday, July 6, 2008

Steel-Melting Solar Mirror

If you were a naughty boy or girl, you've probably burned insect and melted crayons using sunlight and a magnifying glass. Good thing you didn't have a powerful solar mirror like this:

MIT students are now vaporizing wood, and can theoretically melt steel, by focusing sunlight with mirrors.

Their goal: cheap, super-efficient solar energy.

The students' 12-foot by 12-foot parabolic mirror, or solar concentrator, is made of off-the-shelf metal framing fitted with bent mirrors that focus the sun's light onto a single point.

The students have created a new company, Raw Solar, to sell their patented dish design.

"The first goal is to create a heat source that is cheaper than natural gas or oil," said Matt Ridder, one of the MIT students and the press officer for Raw Solar. "An eventual application is electricity generation."

Solar collectors have been around for millenniums. The ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes reportedly turned an attacking Roman fleet to ash with one.

Super-efficient solar energy is good and all, but I prefer Archimedes' use of the device. I mean, who doesn't like burning Roman fleets to ash?


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