With an abundance of solar energy - enough shining on the Earth every hour to meet the world demand for an entire year - it's no surprise that solar radiation has time and again been harnessed to meet the growing needs of mankind.
From ancient Mediterranean homes built to face the sun during the cold winter months to highly sophisticated thin-film photovoltaic cells, which generate electricity from sunlight, solar energy continues to be a leading source of alternative energy.
In 1912, these parabolic solar collectors, built on a small farming community on the Nile River 15 miles south of Cairo, Egypt, were developed by a Philadelphia inventor, entrepreneur, and solar visionary named Frank Shuman. Each collector was 204 feet in length, 13 feet in width and was fitted with a mechanical tracker which kept it automatically tilted to appropriately absorb the sun.
The heat collected by these reflectors was used to produce steam to power a series of large water pumps. Together they produced the equivalent of 55 horsepower and were capable of pumping an astonishing 6000 gallons of water per minute, bringing irrigation water to vast areas of arid desert land.
After the war, as the world discovered the vast oil fields in Iraq, Iran, and Venezuela, the allure of limitless solar energy was diminished and Shuman returned to his hometown of Tacony, in Pennsylvania, never to realize his dreams and visions.
Solar radiation, an emission-free and inexhaustible supply of energy, is the most abundant of all known energy sources in the world. Utilizing solar technology and other forms of renewable energy helps to reduce reliance on fossil fuels for energy production, thus directly reducing CO2 emissions which contribute to artificial climate change and global warming.
Tuesday, 19 April 2011
HISTORY of SOLAR THERMAL
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