Jun 23 2008MIT Students Make Solar Dish, Melt Steel

solar-dish-1.jpg

Students at MIT have developed a parabolic solar dish capable of melting steel. It consists of an array of 10 inch by 12 foot curved mirrors, and is a crucial step in the race to provide cleaner, cheaper energy.

The MIT team believes that their lightweight, inexpensive device holds the promise of revolutionizing the power industry and providing solar power to even remote regions.


The completed mirror focuses enough solar energy at its focal point to melt solid steel. The energy of typical sunlight is concentrated by a factor of 1,000. This was showcased during a demonstration, in which a team member held up a board, which instantly and violently combusted, when brought within range of the focal point.

By directing the dish at a more practical target -- water piped through black tubing -- steam can be flash created, offering instant means of producing energy or providing heating.

Awesome. I just built one myself, and I've got to say, it's pretty damn powerful. I just put a chair in front of it alongside a giant "FREE MAKEUP" sign, and now I'm waiting for my girlfriend to get home.

UPDATE: Success -- single again!

Hit the jump for a picture of the completed dish and a wooden beam catching fire.

solar-dish-2.jpg

MIT Students Develop Revolutionary Solar Dish That is Hot Enough to Melt Steel [dailytech]

Thanks Lee, now lets use one to burn the faces off all the undesirables at the bar

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Reader Comments

First...yippy skippy.

How has it taken so long to come up with this?

Wait... so the sun creates heat? And then heat makes things hot? And hot things catch fire? This information will be very useful to my army of super-robots when I launch my campaign to take over the world. Let's just hope it's not cloudy on D-Day...

This is stupid. Even France has already thought of this.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_furnace
Problem, what do you do when it is cloudy?

Imagine if this technology could be used to cook food!
What's that? They already are?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Solar-Panel-Cooker-in-front-of-hut.jpg

Well done MIT students, now officially as smart as people in third world countries that live in huts (but not the Jaba kind)

Now all we've got to do is hijack an observatory during the day, and point the big end directly at the sun, then the small end will become a super-light-cannon (bye bye army of super-robots)

I think this outdoes my giant magnifying glass. But hey, frying all those little bugs is sure fun. I wonder if I can borrow it sometime?

Agree with #2. One would think this idea would have been done ages ago.

Clinch, that picture made me laugh. Nice post.
From the same article, here is a picture of a solar dish used to make tea. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Solar_tea_kettle.JPG

So yeah, whats the big deal MIT? Yours is just bigger then the rest. Its not that size matters anyways...

this technology has been around since the 16th century. look up sterling engine, solar towers, solar one, or SEGS to see research done in this field. (working models already exist that operate at temperatures that melt steel)

i suppose we are supposed to be awed by MIT's 'lightweight' design. sure, but how much did it cost to make this system? probably doesn't matter since it was all research grants.

next week MIT debuts the ..... wheel!
but this one is rounder than previous designs! amazing!

woo hoo Archimede's Death Ray!

http://mythbustersresults.com/episode46

The only "impressive" thing, as has been noted, is the reduction in weight. The concept has been around for quite some time now...hell it was even part of a Chip 'n' Dale Rescue Rangers episode...where the one lady was making crow pies, and the mirrors all shone on the giant statue, giving it power...Oh the good ol' days of cartoons.

Seeing as the lightweightness, and affordability are the impressive things about this, then perhaps they (i.e. weight and cost) should have been mentioned

DO any smart people still go to MIT?

@#11. They *are* mentioned, in the Dailytech article - dipshit. They aren't mentioned in the Geekologie article 'cause this is a humourous blog not a news site. Geez.

wow some one thought of the melting steel thing a while ago too

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_furnace

@13, I already checked the Dailytech article, and there's no mention of how much this costs, or weighs, so it's you who is the dipshit.

If anyone had bothered digging deeper they would have found that the innovation here is not the machine but the materials used being very cheap and easily obtainable which is a first for machines of this scale.

Now, feed it into a fiber optic cable so I can use it to weld.

@9, i thought of the exact same thing.
this thing is nice!

I think it will be more useful in space:
- to cook their shit outhere withouth spending resources
- get a suntan 360ยบ & private parts
- melt meteorites and make 3v1l space robots.
-etc.

Send me no less than 30 economy sized boxes of hostess treats or I will continue to assault you with my shitty attempts at humor every hour on the hour until you submit to my demands.

This is not a threat Ladies and Gentlemen, it's a promise. You have exactly 24 hours until I post again...

can the focal point of light the mirrors create be straightened, magnified and transfered to a different medium? having the ability to transfer that much power in such a little package is in extreme need for solar power and i'm glad i found this site. i have been dreaming of using mirrors in a different application for a while and am interested in its possibilities.

How much?

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