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Solar Thermal Project
Solar Power is Hot!

The Mont Louis solar thermal facility was the first of it's kind to be built in 1949. It's still in operation in southern France where the Pyrenees meet the Mediterranean. 

Here's proof in the power of the sun--a steel plate melted by super hot solar heat. .  

If you can imagine a 10-centimeter-wide steel plate weighing 30 kilos melt to molten liquid in under 20 minutes using nothing but heat from the sun, then you can imagine the power of solar energy. At least that's what happened to Nigel Howard, the founder of mysolarshop.co.uk. Nigel took a tour of the experimental solar thermal facility located in Mont Louis, France and witnessed first hand the power of solar. 

The Mont Louis Solar Furnace was the first of its kind to be built in 1949 by Felix Trombe. The experimental furnace took  technology used by the Germans in WWII for their anti-aircraft exploits (spotlights used to light up enemy aircraft at night) and harnessed the same solar light for thermal experiments. By concentrating solar rays into a tiny focal point, the furnace is able to capture energy representing temperatures up to 3000 degrees. That's a lot of heat! 

Here are the two giant solar reflectors used to track a sun ray and concentrate it to the intense focal point where temperatures above 3000 degrees are recorded.  

Trombe used the furnace to conduct scientific experiments testing materials against extremely high temperatures. His activities led to the eventual building of a much larger solar furnace up the road in Odeilla, France where experiments in solar heat production are ongoing. 

Today the Mont Louis furnace is managed by an independent association with several missions, one of which is to make use of the free heat it generates to produce traditional crafts like pottery and metalworking. The association is also promoting the technology in sub-Saharan nations as an answer to cheap, sustainable energy and cooking ovens.  The immense furnace is also used as an educational demonstration where visitors can see the sun's energy ignite wood, melt metal and fire pottery. Also on the site are smaller thermal experiments, a solar distillery, a solar grill, a solar oven and solar panels.     

After seeing all this, Nigel went home straight away and set out to build his own solar panel for harnessing such awesome energy. The problem was, he had trouble finding all the components needed for his home solar project. After extensive research to find sources for the materials he needed, Nigel realized other do-it-yourself solar enthusiasts might want access to the same stuff. And thus mysolarshop.co.uk was born—all thanks to that metal melting sun ray at the Mont Louis Solar Furnace in the south of France. 

Examples of artisan-crafted pottery fired using free heat of the sun at the Mont Louis solar oven. The solar forge at Mont Louis is used for metal crafts as well as functional metal work like  the large keys called for in old French buildings.This key was forged using nothing but heat from the sun.

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