High-Flux Solar Furnace

The photo above shows the High-Flux Solar Furnace's primary components. The large flat mirror in the foreground, called a heliostat, tracks the sun and reflects solar energy onto the 25 individual curved mirrors that are collectively referred to as the primary concentrator. These curved mirrors focus the solar flux at a target area in the test building. The long focal length of the primary concentrator in the background of the picture produces a concentrated beam (diameter: 10 cm) with the energy of approximately 2500 suns at the focal point, which is not visible here. When a reflective secondary concentrator is placed at the focus, a flux of more than 20,000 suns can be achieved.

Researchers create highly concentrated solar energy, called solar flux, by reflecting sunlight from precisely curved mirrors, similar to the way a satellite dish reflects radio waves to a point. Solar energy can be concentrated from a few hundred to tens-of-thousands times of the normal intensity of the sun at the Earth's surface. This intense energy creates and sustains extremely high but very localized temperatures, modest concentrations of 2500 suns can easily burn through 1/4-inch (approx. 6 mm) steel. The surface of a material exposed to high solar flux also heats rapidly while the base or substrate remains relatively unaffected. Such rapid surface heating allows advanced surface processes such as ceramic metallization and chemical vapor deposition to be performed.

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Questions, comments, t-shirts, cookies, pizza, milk and honey to:
Mustafa Mesanovic <mm@rhlx01.rz.fht-esslingen.de>
Nils Philippsen <nils@rhlx01.rz.fht-esslingen.de>