CT: Solar power can be used in many extraordinary ways. One of the most majestic applications of solar thermal energy is the solar furnace. These are enormous installations that make use of solar thermal energy for extreme high heat processes (temperatures as high as 3500oC/6330oF). The technology is wonderful for high temperature researchers; the heat produced is very clean with no pollutants. There are a variety of uses for this energy, such as hydrogen fuel production, foundry applications and high temperature materials testing. Thus science can advance without enormous energy bills. Research can take place in areas previously deemed too costly or polluting to be worthwhile. Solar power is to thank.
The largest solar furnace currently in existence is at Odeillo in the Pyrenees-Orientales in France; it has been operational since 1970. This area boasts extremely high air quality and approximately 300 days of sunlight a year, making it a perfect spot for a solar furnace. This is also the same area in which the first solar furnace was built; this solar furnace was put in place at Mont-Louis in 1949 by Professor Felix Trombe. Odeillo and Mont-Louis are within 15km of each other.
The furnace makes use of a large parabolic reflector concentrating the sun into an area the size of the common cooking pot. The reflector is discrete; 63 individual flat mirrors track the sun in unison and redirect the solar thermal energy towards the crucible.
S: http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/blog/post/2011/08/solar-furnaces-a-powerful-use-of-solar-power (last access: 20 December 2014)
N: 1. solar (adj): mid-15c., “pertaining to the sun,” from Latin solaris “of the sun,” from sol “sun”. Meaning “living room on an upper story” is from Old English, from Latin solarium. Old English had sunlic “solar.”
furnace (n): early 13c., from Old French fornaise “oven, furnace” (12c.), from Latin fornacem (nominative fornax) “an oven, kiln,” related to fornus, furnus “oven,” and to formus “warm,” from PIE root gwher- “warm” (cognates: Greek thermos, Old English wearm).
2. Energy > Solar Energy: A device with large mirrors that focuses the sun’s rays upon a small focal point to produce very high temperatures.
A furnace in which high temperatures are achieved by concentrating the sun’s rays on the material under heat treatment or being melted.
3. Energy > Photothermal Conversion: Solar concentrator for producing very light temperatures.
A unitized, self-contained, solar heating system.
S: 1. OED – http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=solar&searchmode=none; . 2 & 3. GDT.
CR: solar energy