My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: How to upgrade your Solar Desalinator to a Solar Cooker and make a Solar Foundry for Vacuum Pyrolysis

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

How to upgrade your Solar Desalinator to a Solar Cooker and make a Solar Foundry for Vacuum Pyrolysis

Remember the Solar Desalinator as described in my Geezam blog article entitled “How to Make Distilled Water using a Solar Desalinator”? Well, get your DIY (Do it yourself) brain in gear as here comes the upgrade even Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz in Phineas and Ferb (2007-) could have used to take over the Tri-State Area.

The idea is to use what’s known as a Fresnel Lens that’s commonly found in Rear Projection TV’s as described in the article Fry an egg with a solar-powered backyard death ray”, published March 11, 2013 5:33 PM PDT by Michelle Starr, CNET News.

A Fresnel Lens is really a layer of concave lenses made of either Glass or Plastic to provided increased magnification for an image but using a thinner, flatter profile and often with a shorter Focal Length. For the visually inclined, here’s a quick video explaining what a Fresnel Lens is; we educate you too as well!

Hence their usage in Rear-Projection TV in a magnification configuration and lighthouses in a reverse configuration!You can purchase an old Rear-projection TV – or even take on off someone’s hands - as most people are upgrading to LCD TV’s and as such are trying to get rid of these big-back eyesores from their living rooms.

You’ll need:

1.      Same tools as used in the Solar Desalinator as described in my Geezam blog article entitled “How to Make Distilled Water using a Solar Desalinator
2.      A used and discarded Rear-Projection TV
3.      A Truck to carry the Rear-Projection TV (gotta be prepared!)
4.      A Fresnel Lens
5.      Sharp Cutting Knife
6.      Safety Gear i.e. Shoes, Goggles, Safety Gloves

The instructions to getting a Fresnel Lens out of the Rear-Projection TV are pretty straightforward:

1.      Look for ads in the newspaper for persons selling a Rear-Projection TV or you can place and Ad saying you’ll buy one from them
2.      Go to the seller, pick up the Rear-Projection TV
3.      Tear down the Rear-Projection TV as per the video, making sure to secure the Fresnel Lens
4.      Frame the Fresnel Lens as per instructions in the video for later use in future projects

Once you follow the instructions in the video, you’ve got your own personal Death Ray with which you can play around with once you’ve found its focus, albeit be careful not to let the kids near it, as it’s a toasty 2000 Degrees Celsius.

So what can you do with your latest toy? Here are a Few ideas to get the Windmills in your mind turning….

Upgrade the Solar Desalinator – more Distilled Water Please

The Fresnel Lens lends well to a simple upgrade of my previous Geezam blog article entitled “How to Make Distilled Water using a Solar Desalinator”; replace the glass with the Fresnel Lens and make the Box bigger so that the water inside is at the same distance as the focal Length of the Fresnel Lens. This’ll require changing some of the dimensions for the Solar Desalinator, but it’s well worth it, as it’ll make Distilled Water much, much faster.

Solar Cooker – Impress your Friends at the Cookout by Cooking Green

Best of all, it can be an alternative to your outside grill or microwave. With a little modification to the Solar Desalinator Design, you can make a Solar Cooker to cook food, albeit you’d have to use Venetian blinds or other methods to control the level of intensity of the heat generated from the focused beam of sunlight.

Solar Pyrolysis – Turn Organic Waste into Liquid Fertilizer Oleum

Change the material to Stainless steel for the entire body of the Solar Desalinator and add a Vacuum pump to pump out air and you have a Solar Foundry for Vacuum Pyrolysis. You can use it to melt anything that you want reduced down to ash without it burning in oxygen, as all burning involves oxidation, hence Pyrolysis.

The advantage of having a Solar Foundry is that you can use it to make Charcoal or even Oleum, which is an organic mixture made by decomposing organic matter to its atomic constituents via heating in a vacuum. Thus organic material in the yard such as grass or dead leaves can be reduced into Carbon, Charcoal (if you do it slowly!) and Organic Oil or Oleum (if the organic material has a lot of Long Chain Hydrocarbon Oil!) that you can reuse as Nitrate and Phosphorus rich fertilizer.

This Solar Foundry for Vacuum Pyrolysis is very similar to the Bio-Char Oven as described in “Turning trash into treasure - Biochar oven makes charcoal, bio-oils from backyard refuse”, published Saturday March 16, 2013 by Glenda Anderson, Gleaner Writer, The Jamaica Gleaner.

It was designed by Executive Director Michael Barnett, an engineer and Dr. Sylvia Mitchell of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Biotechnology Centre, with a group of Level Two HEART-certified welding students doing most of the heavy lifting.

The design modifications to the Solar Desalinator differ, however, in that its Solar powered, as opposed to the BioChar Oven, which is powered using Fossil Fuels. Also there is no smoke; all that is avoided as the decomposition takes place in a vacuum without oxygen being present. Best of all it’s the perfect addition to your Solar Powered Greenhouse as described in my Geezam blog article entitled “Solar Powered Organic Farming – Sustainable Agricultural Development and Jamaica’s Food Security”.

Conclusion: Catch a Fire with Solar Death-ray

And you though making this was a waste of time just to get a Fresnel Lens to melt a few coins or glass bottles.

Remember though safety first:

1.      Cover the Fresnel Lens when left in open Sunlight with a Black cloth
2.      Avoid your kids and pets Catch a Fire Bob Marley Style, with your Personal Solar Death-ray by making a yellow and black barrier around your contraption; it is NOT a toy
3.      Always wear UV Goggles when working with the Death-ray; the concentrated sunlight in a partial or Hard Vacuum can generate some serious UV Radiation which is as harmful as looking at a Welder’s Torch
4.      Keep some water or Micro Dap Diphoterine on hand to apply in case of any burns

So there you have it folks.

You can do your part to clean up the environment by reusing an otherwise defunct technology, that being the Rear-Projection TV. Via this project, you’re recycling it to make an improvement to the Solar Desalinator and even a Solar Cooker. Better yet, you can also make your very own Solar Foundry for Vacuum Pyrolysis to make Fertilizer out of leaves and wood you’d otherwise burn.

Three cheers for the environment all around as you harness the power of the Sun with your new Fresnel Lens powered Death-Ray!

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