I swear I saw on TV once, many years ago, a huge satellite dish looking thing that had a polished surface and they reflected and concentrated enough sun light to burn through a huge steel "I" beam. I then thought about making one of them and using it to heat up things, you know, like a water heater. Or perhaps heat up a network of water in pipes and circulate it through the house to heat it, like a steam boiler/radiator system. I have even gone as far as imagining a really huge dish that concentrates a large amount of solar energy onto another lens or curved mirror to hold it in a tight beam and a directional mirror to make it possible to direct it in any direction you wanted it to go. This perhaps could be so hot it would melt right through the armor plating of tanks and other military vehicles. A weapon that could be used over and over and over. Keep down the military cost right?
But surely they have already thought about it and I guess it doesn't work. I guess it isn't such a great idea after all. But perhaps one day I will tinker with it. Perhaps burn ants....
And then I see this http://news.yahoo.com/s/livescience/20080619/sc_livescience/inventorssolardishcouldrevolutionizeenergyproduction
Inventors: Solar Dish Could Revolutionize Energy Production
LiveScience.comThu Jun 19, 3:05 PM ET
A new type of solar energy collector concentrates the sun into a beam that could melt steel. Researchers say the device could revolutionize global energy production.
The prototype is a 12-foot-wide mirrored dish was made from a lightweight frame of thin, inexpensive aluminum tubing and strips of mirror. It concentrates sunlight by a factor of 1,000 to produce steam.
"This is actually the most efficient solar collector in existence," said Doug Wood, an inventor based in Washington state who patented key parts of the dish's design - the rights to which he has signed over to a team of students at MIT.
To test the prototype this week, MIT mechanical engineering Spencer Ahrens put a plank of wood in the beam an generated an almost instant puff of smoke.
The thing does more than burn wood, of course. At the end of a 12-foot aluminum tube rising from the center of the dish is a black-painted coil of tubing that has water running through it. When the dish is pointing directly at the sun, the water in the coil flashes immediately into steam.
Ahrens and his teammates have started a company, RawSolar, to hopefully mass produce the dishes. They could be set up in huge arrays to provide steam for industrial processing, or for heating or cooling buildings, as well as to hook up to steam turbines and generate electricity, according to an MIT statement. Once in mass production, such arrays should pay for themselves within two years or so with the energy they produce, the students figure.
Wood, the inventor, said the students built the dish and improved on his design.
"They really have simplified this and made it user-friendly, so anybody can build it," he said.
Wood said small dishes work best because it requires much less support structure and costs less for a given amount of collection area.
"I've looked for years at a variety of solar approaches, and this is the cheapest I've seen," said MIT Sloan School of Management lecturer David Pelly, in whose class the project first took shape last fall. "And the key thing in scaling it globally is that all of the materials are inexpensive and accessible anywhere in the world."
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