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Thread: Experience with Concentrating Solar Power?

  1. #1 Experience with Concentrating Solar Power? 
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    Does anyone have any experience with concentrating solar power (CSP)? Would it be a feasible and cost effective way to heat a house?

    The Department of Energy (DOE, U.S.) says there are three different ways to concentrate and use solar power. One of these methods would depend on natural gas, I am not interested so much in this one. The other two are direct solar. I think the one using molten salt might be feasible. If anyone knows of any links with actual diagrams showing how these ideas work, I would really appreciate if you would share them. Thanks!


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  3. #2  
    Forum Sophomore vslayer's Avatar
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    you could use it to heat a water tank. just magnify it with a large magnifying glass, onto a black panel on the bottom, like a magnified solar shower(small portable shower heated by the sun)


    and so the balance of power shifts...
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  4. #3  
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    Thanks VSlayer. Here is the link I have been reading if you are interested:

    http://www.energylan.sandia.gov/sunlab/overview.htm#how

    The first option where they use natural gas as a back up, seems kind of counter productive. The Power Towers are really amazing, but maybe a little complicated for an indivudual to attempt to copy (Or at least this individual, LOL). The Sterling Engine I am pretty fascinated with, and I am hoping to learn more about.

    It seems like these type of solar technologies are much more feasible in terms of functionality, and cost effectiveness. I tried to make a photovoltaic solar cell on a small scale to try to attempt to find a way around some of the complicated technology to make it more feasible for home use. That did not work very well. Concentrating Solar Energy seems much more approachable than photovoltaic, which is why I was hoping someone may have some experience with concentraing solar energies on a smaller scale, or have some thoughts as to why it may or may not work.....

    Cyndi
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    Forum Sophomore Phlogistician's Avatar
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    One method is to lay hundreds of feet of pipe into the soil, and pump water through it. The heat in the ground (which is absorbed from sunlight of course) warms up the water, and can be used to heat your house. It's kind of concentrating solar energy, because you 'milk' a large area of land that soaks up the energy.
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  6. #5  
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    Thanks Phlogistician. That is interesting. I wonder if this is kind of how radiant heating works as well? Of course, if it snowed or something, OUCH! LOL
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  7. #6  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    The pipe idea is using solar heat, but it's actually 'fossil' solar heat. The pipes are planted deep enough that they are not significantly effected by changes in surface temperature. In some variations the pipes maybe run vertically, so that the system takes on the character of a traditional, though shallow, geothermal well.
    In essence you are refrigerating the ground and pumping the excess heat into your home.
    I am considering such a system, as I have a one acre field in front of my house. I am expecting some information on it shortly from a friend of a friend who installs these systems. If I find anything of interest I shall pass it on.
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  8. #7  
    Forum Sophomore vslayer's Avatar
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    there is also the oter option of a sort of thermas. you get a glasshouse(a big glass dome like a greenhouse, but glass) and inside it you create a vacuum, or jsut reduce the air pressure. then you have a large tub of water held off the ground and away from the walls.

    the radiant heat from the sun can then pass through into the water, and minimal to no heat will be lost, so it will continue to heat up.

    then again if you were to jsut put a water tank in a greenhouse that might work.
    and so the balance of power shifts...
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  9. #8  
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    Ah...Geothermal Heating. Here are a couple of links:

    www.climatemaster.com
    www.geothermalheatpump.com/how.htm

    It is pretty interesting. From what I have read, there are approximately four different methods of installation for a system such as this one, which would make it easy for just about any home owner to be able to install and use it.

    My home has central a/c & heat, so according to what I have read online this method would reduce the cost to run them by about 30%. Of course, I have not found any information on how much it would cost to install such a system. My thought is it must vary from home to home.
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  10. #9  
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    VSlayer:

    That is interesting. I hope to have a greenhouse soon. Perhaps I will experiment with your suggestion and see what I can come up with!

    Here is a link to a diagram of the Solar Power Tower.

    http://www.eere.energy.gov/consumeri...olar_tower.pdf


    Now that I have found this link, I think I have a better understanding of how it works at least. The power tower is run on solar power, and does not depend on any fossil fuel for operation. I really find this amazing! Basically, it is a system of mirrors, a control device, some piping (I assume piping), a steam system, and a couple of tanks which use solar heating combined with molten salt to produce electricity.

    According to the literature I found many countries in the world are actually using this as a power grid to provide electricity on large scale. Absolutely astoundingly wonderful and amazing! A truly clean source of electricity!

    This may not be feasible for small scale use though. I am still trying to work through it as such. I am kind of wondering how from a cost perspective it would compare to using photovoltaic panels, so I am also still researching along those lines as well.

    My thought would be this system utilizes solar energy better than the photovoltaic systems and it does not use batteries whereas the photovoltaic systems do use batteries for energy storage. The power tower method will "store" electricity for one week (that's what I read). I guess this would be because the molten salt would stay hot in the thermal tank. I am still learning about it, so....
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  11. #10  
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    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releas...-sct090705.php

    An interesting link about NASA conducting experiments with a solar tower to see how materials withstand radiation in space craft. It is a little off my topic, but still it is very interesting!
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