Solar Power Generator Update

Today, someone passed on an important link. The Swiss company Nolaris is building a solar concentrator power system that matches the Factor e Farm Solar Power Generator very closely. In particular – both systems use flat mirrors in a linear fresnel configuration, and a water-filled collector tube. Nolaris is using a turbine, while we are using a steam engine as the heat engine of choice. The point of this blog post is to demonstrate to the disbelievers that our approach to solar power generation is sound. To clarify, we believe that a linear flat mirror system has the highest potential for replicability on the kW unit of scalability, given the simplicity of the approach. See the video from Nolaris, in French, with sprinkles of English in the encounter with the Arabs.

Another solar conentrator power developer fellow from France told me about a parabolic trough system that he is putting into production in 2009, via Chinese mass production. We will collaborate on developing a steam engine, since that’s an area of common ground. This fellow is doing critical review of our design, and says that the main challenges will be the accuracy of the linear array, and feedback for aligning the array on the receiver tube. He is convinced that once we go through some more calculations, we’ll switch over to his parabolic design. I don’t think so – but if it is indeed so, we welcome an even more cost-effective design. We do have many issues that we need to work out, so if you are interested in getting involved, see the video that discusses all of the development issues in front of us. At best, come to Factor e Farm if you truly want to change the world by making the solar power generator an open source reality.The question is not if it is possible, but how we end up accomplishing that goal. We’re willing to go as deep as we need, in technological recursion – to make this work. It will likely require developing dedicated tooling – in the framework of community supported manufacturing (CSM). We believe that CSM will outperform global outsourcing of the manufacturing process because of improved service and a humane face of the product.

Moreover, I must report the events that transpired since the ‘historic solar convergenece’ discussed in a former post. It turns out that our collaboration with the UK team has ended abruptly. There was some confusion over the license – and when it became clear that we work openly, they retracted all support. I have not heard any responses to several emails. This made me think that in addition to the GFDL copyleft license for the wiki, I should have an explicit disclaimer in my email signature. This disclaimer should clarify to those unfamiliar with open source methods that we mean business only in terms of creating a better world for everybody – which means by sharing information, and especially economically significant information.

With this said, we don’t have ready access to reflector slat mounting, alignment, and feedback for tracking – so we’ll have to reinvent the wheel on these. Conceptually, this is trivial, but it appears that it’s not trivial to implement. Join in to make this happen.

10 Comments

  1. Nick

    Marcin,
    Did the Chinese group have any research work done on suitable heat engines prior to contacting OSE? How serious are they on steam engine development collaboration?

  2. Marcin

    No, just reaffirmation that the cost prediction for a steam engine will be ‘negligible’. The fellow is the Gang Xiao, from the University of Nice, France. I just got an email today discussing issues, which I will put on the wiki after I go through it.

  3. Enrique

    Marcin,

    I’d like to contribute to the design if that is possible. However, when I try to post in this forum the post shows up days later if it shows up at all. I would assume that this is the case with other posters as well.

    I speculate that there is a problem with the moderation procedure. Until you either allow posts to show up immediately once a poster is accepted or screen the posts really quickly, few people will contribute and I will not be one of the few.

  4. Marcin

    Enrique,

    Good comment on moderation. I loosened up the moderation restriction – hoping that spam will not be a problem.

    If you can contribute to the design, please look first at a review thread, where many development points were outlined. It’s a useful critique, and reveals various issues to be addressed, none of which are particularly new or discouraging for the project. Nobody said that building the world’s first, replicable global village would be easy. But, if enough people contribute, products exceed that of proprietary counterparts.

    http://openfarmtech.org/index.php?title=Solar_Concentrator_Reviews

    I welcome your input. What is your experience level with solar thermal power systems?

  5. Enrique

    My experience with solar power systems is theoretical. When I worked as an energy analyst I studied many power systems, including solar thermal systems.

    For the electronic control, I suggest the twenty five dollar Sanguino:
    http://sanguino.cc/

    It is the bigger version of the Arduino. The Sanguino has enough I/O lines to control many mirrors and it has enough memory to contain all the programming and tables needed.

    For prototyping the motors can be standard hobby servos, like the ten dollar:
    http://www.trossenrobotics.com/store/p/3289-Hitec-HS-322HD-standard-hobby-servo.aspx

    For the prototype, I suggest a couple of one square foot mirrors, with a preprogrammed solar tracking path. The solar generator transcript mentions feedback, but since high accuracy is not required for this design, a preprogrammed solar tracking path is good enough to start and easier to implement. Once you’ve tested the electronics and mounting assembly, then you can make a gearbox with stepper motor to handle the load of a ten foot slat.

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  8. mimarob

    hmm, standard hobby servos are a little jumpy in their operation, I would go for the Solarbotics motors. GM2, for instance, at $7

    http://www.solarbotics.com/products/gm2/

    This combined with a hall effect sensor for meassuring the angle would be a strong combination.

    I can dig up some more info on the sensors if there is enough interest.

    The motor in GM2 is a ridicilously cheap device, but since they gear it down 224:1 it gets really strong, which might be needed for a 60 foot element to turn around. Also remember we dont need speed since we will make less than one turn in 24 hours.

    Also from redrok.com I fould a couple selling mylar film which they claim make excellent mirrors.

    http://www.mirrorsheeting.com/

    I think I will order some samples just for fun and try them out!

  9. […] A solar power generator uses solar energy to convert it into electrical energy in order to run the household appliances. Nowadays, one can easily see TVs, washing machines etc being powered by a solar power generator.It is termed as "green generator" as it is a proven source of energy which adds nothing to the global warming and the atmospheric pollution. Rather it helps a lot to save the natural energy sources such as petroleum which are on the way of going extinct.It is emerging as one of most reliable eco-friendly power generating devices. Its total inability to produce air-polluting smoke and irritating sound as other oil run generators do makes it special.A solar power generator is one of the best answers to the shortage of electricity. A well optimized solar power generator helps a lot to minimize the soaring electricity bill as it is capable of running almost all the appliances merely using the free and unbound solar energy.Moreover, this device is very user-friendly and needs least efforts while its installation. It is widely used in the countrysides and at those places where people face regular power crisis.Like all other power generators, it too runs on a definite mechanism. The solar energy is concentrated on the solar panels only to produce DC ( direct current). Then this DC is converted into AC ( alternating current) using the solar inverter already present in the generator itself.Apart from these two components, the third important components of a solar power generator are its rechargeable batteries. These batteries constantly keep receiving power from the inverter in order to run all the appliances.The strength and efficiency of a solar power generator depends completely on how powerful its inverter is. It is the most important part of the generator as it has the capability to convert DC into AC. While buying an inverter, it is advisable to buy one which can produce a bit more energy than the actual demand of the home appliances.In many homes it happens that there is hardly any appliance which is run buy AC. Thus those homes don't need solar power generators with any inverters, apart from devices like DC input systems and DC meters. Pattrick Savarnahttp://www.articlesbase.com/technology-articles/solar-power-generator-an-ecofriendly-green-generator-671935.htmlA solar power generator uses solar energy to convert it into electrical energy in order to run the h…e of energy which adds nothing to the global warming and the atmospheric pollution. Rather it helps a lot to save the natural energy sources such as petroleum which are on the way of going extinct.It is emerging as one of most reliable eco-friendly power generating devices. Its total inability to produce air-polluting smoke and irritating sound as other oil run generators do makes it special.A solar power generator is one of the best answers to the shortage of electricity. A well optimized solar power generator helps a lot to minimize the soaring electricity bill as it is capable of running almost all the appliances merely using the free and unbound solar energy.Moreover, this device is very user-friendly and needs least efforts while its installation. It is widely used in the countrysides and at those places where people face regular power crisis.Like all other power generators, it too runs on a definite mechanism. The solar energy is concentrated on the solar panels only to produce DC ( direct current). Then this DC is converted into AC ( alternating current) using the solar inverter already present in the generator itself.Apart from these two components, the third important components of a solar power generator are its rechargeable batteries. These batteries constantly keep receiving power from the inverter in order to run all the appliances.The strength and efficiency of a solar power generator depends completely on how powerful its inverter is. It is the most important part of the generator as it has the capability to convert DC into AC. While buying an inverter, it is advisable to buy one which can produce a bit more energy than the actual demand of the home appliances.In many homes it happens that there is hardly any appliance which is run buy AC. Thus those homes don't need solar power generators with any inverters, apart from devices like DC input systems and DC meters. Pattrick Savarnahttp://www.articlesbase.com/technology-articles/solar-power-generator-an-ecofriendly-green-generator-671935.html WordPress › Error […]

  10. Christian Ledermann

    Hi there,
    I thought you might find this of interest:

    Solar Steam Engine

    http://www.zenmanenergy.org/

    Our first major project is to produce an affordable solar steam
    engine. On paper (well… on computer screen) our first design is a
    fraction of the cost of current photovoltaic solutions. It may even
    compete with the cost of coal power. When the prototype is complete,
    we will release detailed construction plans for free.

    Open Source Solar?
    This may sound strange, but we WANT you to copy our designs. First, we
    need help to improve the implementations but more importantly we need
    YOU or your business to make money from solar power production. Zenman
    Energy can’t create enough power plants to make a dent in how the
    world creates energy, it will take lots of people to make this happen.

    I would have posted it in the forums but i cannot login. neither openid nor manual logtin works for me 🙁

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