As civilization grows the energy needed to support our lifestyles increases daily, requiring us to find new innovative ways to use our renewable resources such as the sunlight to create more energy for our society to continue making progress.
Recent Unique Advances in the Applications of Solar Energy to Benefit Us on a Day to Day Basis
Dr, Raj Shah, Ms. Mariz Baslious, Mr. Blerim Gashi | Koehler Instrument Company
History of Solar Technology
For centuries sunlight provided and enabled life on our planet. Whether directly or indirectly the sun had allowed for the creation of almost all known energy resources such as fossil fuels, hydro, wind, biomass, and more. As civilization grows the energy needed to support our lifestyles increases daily, requiring us to find new innovative ways to use our renewable resources such as the sunlight to create more energy for our society to continue making progress.
As early as the ancient world we have been able to use the sun’s energy to survive, the use of sunlight as energy originated with an architecture that was built over 6000 years ago, whereby the orientation of the home was adjusted so that sun rays passed through openings to act as a form of heating. After a few thousand years the Egyptians and the Greeks used the same technique to keep their homes shaded from the sun in the summertime, in order to keep their homes cool . Windows where large single pane windows were used as solar heat treats, allowing the entry of the heat from sunlight but trapping the heat inside. Not only was sunlight essential for the heat it exerts in the ancient world, but it was also used for food preparation and conservation through salting. In salting, the sun was used to evaporate the toxic sea water and obtain salt which was collected in solar ponds . Later in the Renaissance era, Leonardo da Vinci had proposed the first industrial application of a concave mirror solar concentrator to be used as a water heater, later Da Vinci also proposed the technology of welding copper using solar radiation and allowed for the technical solutions to operate textile machines . Soon enough during the industrial revolution, W. Adams created what is now known as a solar oven. This oven had eight symmetrical silver glass mirrors creating an octagonal reflector. The sunlight was concentrated by the mirrors into a glass covered wooden box where the pot would be placed, allowing it to boil . Fast forward a couple hundred years and the solar steam engine was constructed around 1882 . Abel Pifre used a concave 3.5m diameter mirror and had it focus on a cylindrical steam boiler, this engine produced enough power to operate a printing press.
In 2004 the world’s first commercial concentrating solar power plant which was named the Planta Solar 10, was set up in Seville, Spain. The sunlight was reflected but about 624 meters to a tower where the solar receiver was set up with a steam turbine and a generator. This was able to produce energy to power over 5500 homes. …….