RAJKOT: A low-tech, high- solar power concentrator used in Canada, Mexico, Cuba, France, Burkina Faso, Mali, Texas and Kenya has now come to Rajkot, thanks to a French engineer and a local entrepreneur. Called the Solar Fire P32, it concentrates the sun’s rays on a boiler to produce steam that can run a small engine.

This steam energy can be used directly to purify large quantities of water, boil milk, produce edible oils, make charcoal for terra-pretta, bake bricks, and anything requiring heat. It can also drive a steam engine to directly power a water pump, oil and flower mills, cotton spinning, juice presses, or any (stationary) application requiring mechanical power. With direct power (no electricity), such systems are easy for villagers to install and maintain.

The Solar Fire P32 is composed of 360 normal flat mirrors, each 15x30cm and 2mm thick. All the mirrors reflect sunlight on a boiler. Each flat mirror is slightly curved with a triangle device fitted to the back. This allows further concentration so the machine can pass into the category of high concentration without adding significantly more cost. The structure is made of common steel lengths. No advanced tools or knowledge that is not found in an average metal working shop are required to build, install and maintain it.

“Our objective is to reduce deforestation and pollution, increase energy autonomy, and provide an energy source at the scale of traditional practices,” said Eerik Wissenz, a self-taught engineer in solar energy, who developed the Solar Fire P32. Eerik studied mathematics at the University of Ottawa and University of Carleton, Canada, and has travelled to Mexico, Cuba, Spain, France, Sweden, Finland and India, developing the Solar Fire technique and training individuals and organisations.

“Though it’s currently being tested, the expected performance is 15 kW of steam energy in broad daylight (which provides the machine with about 25 kW of solar energy),” said Velji Desai, an entrepreneur dedicated to developing small technologies. “This device could be developed in just Rs 1.5 lakh once we start making it commercially and anybody can do it. We are not going file any patent for it. We believe in make simple devices and spread them across the globe for the betterment of humanity,” said Desai.

Eerik says that Solar Fire is not designed with electricity in mind, but rather to replace fires of biomass and coal, specifically in developing countries. “We are designing it in a manner that even illiterate persons can operate and maintain it. The idea is to reach out to as many people as possible with an affordable device for a better world.”

source: timesofindia.indiatimes