It’s a concept that’s been around for decades, and has been a part of many science fiction films. It’s just now getting real, thanks to a team of scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the Department of Energy.
The idea is simple: harnessing energy from the sun’s radiation would provide the energy we need for energy, manufacturing, transportation, and more.
It’s this simple idea that has been getting a lot of attention in the last several months as several companies such as Tesla , Google and Microsoft are ramping up efforts to bring more sunlight into our homes and businesses. Many are also betting we can harness the energy from water and other renewable sources and that we are on the path to a cleaner, cheaper, and greener world.
However, a new study published Tuesday has come up with a more radical alternative: harnessing the energy of the sun.
“A new research team, led by a research scientist at ORNL, has devised a new concept for achieving solar-scale energy, called free energy.”
The team, called the Sustainability Energy Consortium (SEC), is a collaboration of ORNL engineers and researchers based out of Eindhoven, The Netherlands, led by Thomas O’Neill. According to the study, the new concept can be realized by using multiple mirrors, and using many, many of these mirrors, to power buildings from the surface. By using three mirrors at once, solar gain could be “substantially” increased.
Researchers created three types of structures to test their concept. They found that multiple mirrors could provide significant energy gains that can exceed 50 percent. The power output was tested on a small scale of 2,000 mirrors at a time in a small, single-site experiment. In comparison, a typical single-site experiment would use 10,000 mirrors.
The report, published by Science, highlights the new concept as a possible way to harness energy from non-visible sources that would otherwise be uneconomical and prohibitively expensive, like water and solar light. The team notes that an ideal system could be developed by using just a single source of renewable energy.
“[We] propose to use solar PV as the primary source of free energy.”
The report concludes that the three-mirror approach can provide an energy gain of up to 51 percent. That is in part due to the fact that the mirrors move with the sun, creating “substantially” more power.
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