Solar Progess

Solar One

Solar One; of

            By Richard Williams, 5/17/09

          This project needed a name so I would not have to refer to it as the Solar Project.  Since so many of you generous and brilliant minded engineers contributed great advice and comments to this effort by me, I have decided to honor all of us by calling it, Solar One of  Perhaps it is a fitting tribute because so many of our members have offered me such great ideas to guide me in the building of the Solar One.   I appreciate everybody’s thoughts, kindness and support.  When things get hectic and boring in making repetitive parts, I think about all that was said in the comments section and push on.  Thank you all.  Now for some pictures.

          When I first conjured up this plan for building a heliostat to capture the thermal energy of our sun and then store it in a container system it was a balmy desert temperature of about 70 degrees Fahrenheit.  Just a really great temperature to play with an idea I have had for quite some time now.  That nice temperature is already in the triple digits in temperature and after just looking at the outdoor thermometer that is in the shade, it read 102 degrees F.  I’m mentioning that because the pool, after having the solar coil on the roof fixed is already up to 84 degrees F., after being back into operation for only four days.  It started out at just about 60 degrees F.  J  The spa that is connected to the pool and uses that same solar roof coil can go well over 112 degrees F., but then we have to temper that water down with the cooler pool water.  It is simply amazing how well solar energy can be used and very simply too.  Here down below is the first screen shot I wanted to let you see.  I’m working just outside my garage door, set up on my makeshift work table in the shade.  The heat is a monster during the day and I guess being in a desert region that is why.  Profound, huh?  But as you can see I am trying very hard to work as accurately as I can with wood.  Getting things lined up is critical and I am using the metric scale whenever I can to get the centers for all my drill holes that I must make.  This worked out good but not great.  Wood has a grain to it and even after center punching the crosshairs of my marks; the drill bit drifts slightly off.  A metal framing would definitely be better to utilize in the construction of this type of experiment in any future plans.  I am trying to compensate by drilling holes a millimeter or two larger so I can move one way or the other.  I’m sure if any of you have done a similar job, you know what I mean.

Just a couple of pictures of the setup I made to get started with the assembly of this Solar One; of   It is very bright outside and to a great degree it helps these old eyes to see even better.  So all is not so bad with working just outside in the shade.  Of course I have not shown you the many cases of beer that I figure this job will incur.  One must definitely work in a cooled down state.  J  Safety first.


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Something that I am not able to show you is the facial expressions I get from neighbors that drive or walk by my driveway and see this operation I have going on.  I say nothing but hi to them, because I don’t want them to know that I am crazy just yet.  Down below here is the first row of six mirrors mounted to the outside frame.

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I will admit that I could not resist the temptation to pick it up and get a reflection going on the garage wall.  It seemed to work very well but was clumsy to hold and adjust at the same time.  Another shot of this assembly from a different angle down below here.

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Now let me explain something here.  In the next two shots you will see the first two with the mirror array of two rows leaning up against the fence.  Mirrors are unfocused and are shining in many different directions. 

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     The last two pictures down below here I had to take and I could not resist it, so I did a quick focusing on the cement driveway.  No precision here but just a quick tilting and rotation on one particular spot.  This represents 12 little 3 inch square mirrors and that represents  only 1/3 rd of the 36 mirrors that will be in this one array.  It will also have a twin sister with the same amount of mirrors for a full 72 mirror array.  That should be equal to a full 8 square feet of reflected mirror array and will be orientated to a perpendicular angle to the sun which will produce a much higher efficiency of reflectance.  However, having said that, let me tell you that I felt the cement not in the focus of any mirrors with my hand and then moved it quickly to the focused spot in the pictures down below and I can state unequivocally that there was a tremendous heat difference on that quickly set up spot.  I think this is going to work great.  J  I know that is an unscientific portrayal of the temperature difference but I am trying to write this article for you so everyone can stay tuned in.  I have had a lot of interruptions over the last few days in my working on it and I do not want the interest to die down.

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   I have only two more school speaking engagements this week in which I talk to the youngsters about the importance of staying in school and to think about engineering as a career.  I also talk about this experiment and they are tremendously interested in it.  That just might spark some thinking about those kinds of careers.  I also bring in one of the mirrors with me to show them.  Bye for now.