Using solar energy to create steam isn’t exactly a new concept, and solar concentrators (systems which focus the sun’s energy on a specific point) are well established.
But French association Open Source Écologie France (OSE) is doing things differently with their Solar-OSE; a maker project that can generate heat up to 250°C. It also costs around €2 000 (R30 000) and it only takes a week for it to be assembled by four people.
The project consists of multiple mirror strips which reflect rays onto a central pipe that is filled with water. The water boils and turns into steam which can be used for all manner of food processing or even water treatment.
While not mentioned in any of the descriptions, we’re sure that converting the project to create electricity wouldn’t be a massive leap.
The mirror strips are motorised and controlled by an Arduino. They track the sun and make sure that the maximum amount of energy is being captured.
The Solar-OSE was shown off at POC21, an eco-hacking conference held in a French castle. The entire project is up on Instructables with an extremely detailed guide on how to recreate it. In only 42 steps you could have your very own version.
To demonstrate the power of the concept, OSE ran a crow-funding campaign on Ulule to create a version that’s four times bigger and can generate 5kW of power. To give that number some meaning: regular petrol or diesel generators that can reach 5kW are rated to run moderately sized households. The campaign had an end goal of $7 447 (R104 622) but managed to rake in $8 574 (R120 456).