Solar furnace

solar furnace is a structure that uses concentrated solar power to produce high temperatures, usually for industry. Parabolic mirrors or heliostatsconcentrate light ( Insolation ) onto a focal point . The temperature at the focal point can reach 3,500 ° C (6,330 ° F), and this heat can be used to generate electricity , melt steel , make hydrogen fuel or nanomaterials .

The largest solar furnace is at Odeillo in the Eastern Pyrenees in France , opened in 1970. It employs an array of plane mirrors to gather sunlight, reflecting it onto a larger curved mirror.


The ancient Greek / Latin term heliocaminus literally means “solar furnace” and refers to a glass -enclosed sunroom intentionally designed to become hotter than the outside air temperature. [1]

During the Second Punic War (218-202 BC), the Greek scientist Archimedes is Said to-have repelled the attacking Roman ships by setting ’em on fire with a ” burning glass ” that May-have-been an array of mirrors. An experiment to test this theory Was the carried out by a group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2005. It Concluded That Was ALTHOUGH the theory sound for stationary objects, the mirrors Likely Would not-have-been reliably Sufficient to concentrate solar energy to set a ship we fire under battle conditions. [2]

The first modern solar furnace is believed to be built in France in 1949 by Professor Felix Trombe. It is now still in place at Mont Louis , near Odeillo. The Pyrenees was chosen for the site because of the clear skies up to 300 days a year. [3]

Another solar furnace was built in Uzbekistan as part of a Soviet Union “Sun” Complex Research Facility impulsed by Academician SA Asimov. [4]


The rays are focused on the size of a cooking pot and can reach 4,000 ° C (7,230 ° F), depending on the process installed, for example:

  • About 1,000 ° C (1,830 ° F) for metallic receivers producing hot air for the next generation of solar panels. It will be tested at the Themis plant with the Pegase project [5]
  • about 1,400 ° C (2,550 ° F) to produce hydrogen by cracking methane molecules [6]
  • up to 2,500 ° C (4,530 ° F) to atmospheric reentry
  • up to 3,500 ° C (6,330 ° F) to produce nanomaterials by solar induced sublimation and controlled cooling, such as carbon nanotubes [7] or zinc nanoparticles [8]

It has-been suggéré That Could Be solar furnaces used in space to Provide energy for manufacturing practical purposes.

Their reliance on sunny weather is a limiting factor as a source of renewable energy is Earth object Could Be tied to thermal energy storage systems for energy generation through thesis periods and into the night.

Smaller-scale devices

The solar furnace is being used to make inexpensive solar cookers and solar-powered barbecues , and for solar water pasteurization . [9] [10] [11] A prototype Scheffler reflector is being constructed in India for use in a solar crematorium . This 50 sq. Meter will generate temperatures of 700 ° C (1,292 ° F) and displace 200-300 kg of firewood used per cremation. [12]

See also

  • Solar power tower
  • Solar thermal energy
  • Solar furnace of Uzbekistan


  1. Jump up^ MEEF Roman Architectural Glossary
  2. Jump up^ 2.009 Product Engineering Processes: Archimedes
  3. Jump up^ Odeillo Solar Furnace official website, retrieved 12 July 2007
  4. Jump up^ Français Russia’s post about the Uzbekistan Soviet Solar Furnace
  5. Jump up^ PEGASE project home page
  6. Jump up^ SOLHYCARB, EU funded project, ETHZ official page
  7. Jump up^ Flamant G., Luxembourg D., Robert JF, Laplaze D., Optimizing fullerene synthesis in a 50 kW solar reactor, (2004) Solar Energy, 77 (1), pp. 73-80.
  8. Jump up^ T. Ait Ahcene, C. Monty, J. Kouam, A. Thorel, G. Petot-Ervas, A. Djemel, solar Preparation by physical vapor deposition (SPVD) and nanostructural study of pure and doped ZnO nanopowders Bi, Journal of the European Ceramic Society, Volume 27, Issue 12, 2007, Pages 3413-342
  9. Jump up^ “Solar Water Pasteurization” . Solar Cookers International. 2010.
  10. Jump up^ Mills, James (20 April 2007). “Coming to a garden near you – the solar-powered barbecue” . Daily Mail . London.
  11. Jump up^ US patent for solar barbecue granted in 1992.
  12. Jump up^ “Development Of A Solar Crematorium” (PDF) . Solare Brüecke . Retrieved 2008-05-20 .

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