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Context of '1969: France Builds Odeilo Solar Furnace'

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Inventor Clarence Kemp of Baltimore patents the first commercial solar water heater. Kemp, who sells cutting-edge home heating equipment, combines the older practice of exposing metal tanks to sunlight with the scientific principle of the “hot box” (see September 27, 1816), thus increasing the tanks’ capability of collecting and retaining heat. He calls his invention the “Climax.” He first markets it to Eastern “gentlemen” whose wives have gone on holiday for the summer, leaving them to their own devices. Kemp sells his heaters by claiming that they will reduce the effort needed to perform housekeeping duties, especially for men unaccustomed to lighting the gas furnace or stove to heat water. Later, Kemp will find a brisk market for his Climax heaters in warmer states such as California. By 1897, a third of the households in Pasadena will use the Climax to heat water in their homes. [California Solar Center, 2001; US Department of Energy, 2002 pdf file]

Entity Tags: Clarence Kemp

Timeline Tags: US Solar Industry

1969: France Builds Odeilo Solar Furnace

Odeilo Solar Furnace.Odeilo Solar Furnace. [Source: Gizmodo]France builds the Odeilo Solar Furnace, located in the Pyrenees Mountains. It has an eight-story stack of some 10,000 mirrors that reflect sunlight into a large concave hemisphere to focus the energy—so-called “lensing technology.” Temperatures in the hemisphere can reach up to 6,300°F. The energy generates electricity via a steam turbine, and is later used for making hydrogen fuel, testing reentry materials for space vehicles, and performing high-temperature metallurgic experiments. Its extraordinary heat generation allows for the production of carbon nanotubes and zinc nanoparticles via solar induced sublimation. [US Department of Energy, 2002 pdf file; Gizmodo, 7/26/2011]

Entity Tags: Odeilo Solar Furnace

Timeline Tags: US Solar Industry

Paul MacCready builds the first solar-powered aircraft, which he calls the Solar Challenger. To prove its viability, he flies it from France to England across the English Channel. The aircraft is powered by over 16,000 solar cells mounted on its wings, which produce 3,000 watts of power. [US Department of Energy, 2002 pdf file]

Entity Tags: Paul MacCready

Timeline Tags: US Solar Industry

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