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Bill Gates-Backed Solar Oven Achieves Breakthroughs

 
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Heliogen, a solar thermal power company backed by Bill Gates, might have fixed industry's CO2 issues.

This article explains it, and has a video and some pics.

Let's brainstorm, Permies. What specific industries, materials, and products could now be much, much greener with the sun as their sole source of heat energy?

They mention cement and steel, for instance, and to that I would add glass manufacture and all heat-based recycling. I would also venture that such a solar furnace would be able to sustain temperatures sufficient to incinerate plastics cleanly, or heat retorts filled with biomass to be pyrolised, or power giant molten salt batteries, able to power conventional steam-based power generation plants in lieu of fossil fuels, and able to do so, depending on thermal battery capacity, on a constant basis.

And if you had a fresnel lens and reflector combo that could take the heat, that solar energy could be directed to specific points. Incoming tanks/bombers/missles? If you can track them and they're dumb enough to attack on a sunny day, Aristotle eat your heart out.

I do wonder, also, to what extent this technology can be used on the smaller scale. I mean, it's all software and essentially off-the-shelf components. It would be great if homesteaders could employ distributed arrays of solar-tracking mirrors that beamed that heat to a molten salt battery, for instance, or a solar forge/smelter/recycler/kiln/retort/whatever-you-could-possibly-want-1000-C-of-concentrated-solar-power-for.

Hey Paul. Maybe you could reignite that dormant volcano of yours. That would be one hell of an RMH.

-CK
 
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That's nifty!  Time to buy factory land in Arizona...

One smaller scale use could be to heat the hot side of a Stirling heat engine to make electricity.

I wonder how they'd distribute the heat within a factory to melt ore or make cement...  Directly with mirrors or by heating salt and squirting it around.
 
Chris Kott
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I also like the idea that you could shade out dessicated land and use the shelter of the mirrors to nurture soil life and pioneer species. From there, a dryland pasture isn't too far away, and from there, who knows?

I know that Paul considers reflected light as spectrally compromised, but one could also use such technology to heat a giant hot water tank to hot tub temperatures running it through a filter in a system that perhaps either provides hot water, or in-ground thermal piping. Or you could just have a giant hot tub.

Light could also be the intended result. A wofati with a reflective pond as a light collector could have its light levels amplified. And more light could be directed towards greenhouses or inconvenient dark spots on the land, to amplify natural sun traps, for the growing of less-suitable perennials, such as perhaps citrus outdoors in Montana.

-CK
 
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Chris Kott wrote:Let's brainstorm, Permies. What specific industries, materials, and products could now be much, much greener with the sun as their sole source of heat energy?



Aluminium, and its derivatives, are used in just about everything. But, it consumes a huge amount of electricity to smelt it.

Technology wise, separation and blending of 'rare earth metals', or those expensive to transform to pure grades. The most significant use for readily available and cheap REM's is faster evolution of a high temperature superconductor - a holy grail of science.

One of my favourites - regardless of environment, it would be the death knell for the nuclear power industry as energy research shifts to solar storage technologies.

Future: a focused and redirected solar laser could be used to safely 'drill' tunnels, reducing the need for fossil fuel consumption and overall costs.

 
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I am left wondering what the fuss is.  The french system using molten salts melted down the steel containment vessel 20 years ago when they had a problem.  Was this not something they could do reliably?

I am going to say that concrete and glass are the ones that will yield the most.  Pottery would be the other major one if regulary used as building material.  Most metals will probably be better done with electric arc furnaces.

 
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C. Letellier wrote:I am left wondering what the fuss is.  The french system using molten salts melted down the steel containment vessel 20 years ago when they had a problem.  Was this not something they could do reliably?



I believe the fuss is centered around a  ~2x increase in heat compared to previous solar array systems. Molten salt systems generally operate ~500˚C, but this new system can achieve temperatures of around 1000˚C, making it suitable for cement, steel, glass, etc. The other side of it is this new system is designed to produce heat as it's primary output, whereas molten salt systems tend to produce electricity as their primary output. A lot of industry relies on fossil fuels for heat production, not so much energy.

If any of you ever have a chance to see one of these big mirror setups, it's really a mind-bending piece of infrastructure to behold. I'm definitely curious to see where this goes. Replacing fossil-fuel powered heat is a big hurdle in moving toward carbon-neutral manufacturing, and one electricity sucks at.
 
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