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Boiling Water via New Solar Panel Method

  1. Oct 16, 2011 #1
    For a science project, I plan to come up with a reliable way to produce clean water from the sun. I've toyed with ideas of using fresnel lenses and parabolic concentrators, but none of them solved all the problems I had.
    Then, I thought of using multiple—and when I say multiple I mean about 300+—small mirrors to reflect light.
    Would this work? Reflect it all to a point—or a blotch, since points are technically impossible with diffraction—and boil water, the condense it in a different chamber? It would be cheap and easy, as well as efficient. However, since it's a project, I don't want to do it for nothing. Would it work?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 16, 2011 #2


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    Sure it will work. This is basically what solar thermal power stations like this one do:

    Bear in mind that the mirrors will need motors on them to keep the sun focused on your boiler as the sun moves.
  4. Oct 16, 2011 #3
    Instead of adding motors (Since cheapness is a major part of my experiment), could I just put them on a wooden structure and move the structure as the sun moves?
  5. Oct 25, 2011 #4
    I'm thinking you can use a 24-hour plug timer from your local store $3 for the sun tracker, just attach a metal pole horizontal to the ground at the center of the timer and lay the other end of the pole in a hole/groove slick with grease and/or ball bearings, then place solar panel centered on the pole so that the weight is balanced evenly on both sides (add a balance to the other side of the pole if necessary, the batteries you will charge up make a good counter balance, plus a plug timer won't spin backwards). The panel/dish will rotate 360 degrees every 24 hours (facing the ground at night) and you only had to spend $3 to create the sun tracker built out of scraps. This works good for solar panels.

    I built a mirrored dish out of a mini-dish and 1/2 inch mirrors 250+, but it wasn't hot enough to burn a paper plate much less boil water, it would sun burn my hand though, so a full size dish should do it with at least 2000 mirrors.

    You could possibly use the plug timer as a flywheel, aim it up, with a pole pointing up attached to a toothed flywheel that turns another flywheel angled 90 degrees to rotate a dish balanced on one side, but you would need to suspend a little the water in a sealed glass bottle at the focal point of the parabolic dish, I don't see how you could use this for say steam power though. You would really need a huge dish(s), sun tracker, and steam engine to do that, like the ones shown in the Wikipedia entry above.
  6. Oct 26, 2011 #5
    Well, this is the first question your project needs to answer, isn't it? How much water do you want to boil, what's the rate (say in grams per second)? How much energy does it take to boil those grams? What's the power you need to get your rate? How big does that mean your mirrors need to be? This sounds like a fun project!
  7. Oct 27, 2011 #6
    guess you should search in youtube for solar death ray, which burns plastic, ipod everything, i am thinking of clubbing a solar death ray with sterling engine to produce infinite energy

    solar death ray same concentration of power of 112 mirrors / suns. Here in india most of the months (about 9 months ) we have hot climate from 30-40 degree celsius
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