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Friday, December 03, 2004

Pair a Bowl, eh?

Solar collectors measuring 35 feet in diameter generate a sustained 25 KW of power according to EE Times. The coompany that builds the stirling engine-driven (not solar cell!) claim each collector can supply electricity to over 6 homes. A stirling engine basically operates on the principle of heated gases expanding, which then drives a generator motor through a piston motion. Really not much different than a steam engine. The radiation is concentrated through the conventional parabolic shaped dish familiar to anyone that owns a satellite dish or spies on their neighbors with a snooper microphone.

For some reason, I like to use the sanity check of "How many hair dryers will this power generation gizmo support?" To take a typical example, a Vidal Sassoon hair dryer can use 1875 watts. So, a single Stirling collector can operate 13 hair dryers at peak. It makes absurd sense, because the area of collected solar radiation is the footprint of a small house, and I can imagine heating a small house pretty well with 13 hair dryers running continuously.

I call this holding pattern technology.


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