Sunday, October 05, 2008

You're So Bright, Your Mama Must Have Called You Sun

This weekend, Green Energy Ohio has sponsored a number of local Solar Tours around the state to show off the use of solar technologies in powering homes and businesses.

Since the Renaissance Man and I both have an interest in alternative technologies -- including the "low-tech" solutions we like to call "appropriate technologies" -- we decided to catch as much as we could. So after wandering around our county and the next yesterday, we headed to the Akron area today to check out a few more sites.

The first stop was a familiar one: Crown Point Ecology Center. I knew the Renaissance Man would be interested in the passive solar design of the farm's workshop, but when we arrived, we had another solar power demonstration to investigate.

A gentleman from a local business had set up two four-foot dishes covered with vacuum-sealed (to create a concave "lens") reflective Mylar sheets.

The reflector dishes were aimed at a large coffee pot, nestled snugly in a metal insulating jacket. As the reflected sunlight beat a bright tattoo on the bottom of the pot, we could see the heat rising off the top.

It took about twenty minutes to make a large pot of coffee, just enough time for more tour visitors to arrive, inspect the set-up, and work up a thirst.

Once the coffee came down and was passed around, the solar "chef" put up a pan with meat inside the insulated layers...

...adjusted the light beams, and started cooking. It didn't take long for steam to roll off this pan, too, and he soon had to remove the pan, flip the meat, and cook the other side.

He never tired of demonstrating to the crowd just how hot the surface of the pan could become from the focused sunbeams. He held up a sheet of newspaper, and within seconds it had gone from smoking to bursting into flames. Pretty dramatic!

I've been intrigued with the idea of solar cookers for some time, but this demo has me thinking about it even more now. You can make simple solar ovens from boxes, which I haven't tried, but this looks like it's an even more efficient use of solar power.

What a bright idea!

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At 10/07/2008 11:56 AM, Blogger Phoenix said...

Okay. Now that's totally cool.

The Green Energy Ohio tours are a brilliant idea. Glad you could participate!

At 10/07/2008 12:06 PM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

Yeah, Phoenix, it's so hot, it's COOL. ;-)

I think there were probably other tours around the country, but I am not sure. You might have to check it out sometime!

At 10/08/2008 10:34 PM, Anonymous Janet said...

Very cool, those reflectors. Never heard of such things. The solar oven boxes, though, make me think of Girl Scout projects that only sorta kinda work...

At 10/09/2008 7:17 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

True, and I think the boxes don't get as high a temperature as this does, which is why things cook so quickly in this set up.


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