Contracting Wires Harness Sun’s Rays (Nov, 1932)

It doesn’t seem like much of that light would actually hit each individual wire does it?

Contracting Wires Harness Sun’s Rays

THE long, exhausting search of scientists for a method of harnessing the rays of the sun has yielded the solar machine illustrated in the artist’s drawing above.

Operation of the machine is based upon the principle of contraction and expansion of tungsten wires. These wires are arranged lengthwise of a revolving drum, and the sun’s rays are directed against them by means of a parabolic mirror on each side.

As the drum rotates the wires pass out of the focal range of the sun’s rays and are doused in a trough of water at the bottom. Sudden cooling of the wires causes them to contract rapidly, pulling on a bell crank at the end of the drum. This action in turn causes the dogs to engage notches in the fixed ratchet and drive the drum around. Rotation of the drum causes the shaft to which it is fixed to revolve and operate the pulley on the same shaft. J. J. Warner, of San Francisco, is the inventor.

  1. Stannous says: September 18, 20073:26 pm

    Correct me if I’m wrong but I think that like the mechanical television:…
    this is a case of people from the Steam Age not being quite able to wrap their minds around direct electrical transmission.
    Using solar to generate electricity either by photochemical means or by turning a generator is much simpler, more dependable, and probably more efficient.

  2. Rick Auricchio says: September 18, 20077:31 pm

    After a while, the cold water won’t be very cold any more. At that point, the machine will stop.

    One wonders if the machine could do any other work aside from simply rotating its own drum!

  3. jayessell says: September 19, 20076:01 am

    I saw something like that.
    It used rubber bands.
    It looked like a bicycle wheel.
    It ran on as little as a 3 degree temperature gradient.
    Not sure if it could be scaled up to be useful.

  4. Ergosum says: September 19, 20078:01 am

    It’s true that this method is absurdly expensive and impractical and that won’t yield much energy, but regarding its validity I think it’s basically sound.

    1) The solar rays will concentrate along a focal line. The tungsten cables will transit through this region, one at a time. This is good.

    2) In the interval between the passage of each cable, the sun will heat the tank. This is bad.

    3) Of course the water must circulate and remain at the lowest possible temperature.

    This is a typical thermal machine that works through the transmission of heat from a hot fountain (the mirror’s focal line) and a cold fountain (the water). It will yield more usable energy if the temperature interval increases.

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