Solar Turbine Development

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This is a project page for deploying the Solar Turbine at Factor e Farm - with physical implementation starting in August, 2008. We are gathering a team and preparing designs and materials for that time. The email group for this project is here.


The team, or at least as many members as possible, will assemble at Factor e Farm in August.

  1. Marcin and Brittany - Factor e Farm site preparation
  2. Stuart in Canada - carpentry skills
  3. Elliot in California - physics Bachelor's, Industrial Swadeshi interests, steam cycle flow design
  4. Dan Granett, California - past prototype of Tesla turbine
  5. Jamie, Maryland - solar turbine fabrication enterprise interests
  6. Mel and Chris, Massachusetts - MIT OLPC group and off-grid energy interests
  7. Lawrence, North Carolina - fabrication procedure for Tesla Turbine
  8. Vinay, Iceland - Project Elder
  9. Smari, Icaland - Iceland Fab Lab developer, Digital Fabrication

Existing Work

System integration for the solar turbine is described here Pattern Language#Sample Product Ecology 1: Energy – Solar Turbine Combined Heat and Power (CHP) System using the open source technology pattern language. The information on the turbine itself is here Boundary Layer Turbine, and the design information for the solar concentrators is here Solar Concentrators.

Preparatory Work

Work that needs to be done prior to groundbreaking in August:

  1. Solar Concentrator Site Preparation
  2. Solar Concentrator Technical Drawings for the concentrator array, building on the conceptual drawings in Solar Concentrators
    1. Solar Concentrator Foundation
    2. Solar Concentrator Structure - alignment and carpentry technique -
    3. Solar Concentrator Tube - design, insulation, support structure, alignment procedure
    4. Solar Collector Calculations
  3. Steam Cycle Integration
  4. Rankine Cycle
  5. Tesla Turbine Evaluation- rigorous evaluation of performance predictions; proceeding with building the turbine or deciding on another engine
  6. Solar Steam Engine Selection Process
  7. Babington burner Flash Steam Generator preparation -
  8. Mirror Mounting and Tracking

Future Phases

  1. Building of Solar Thermal Storage Cisterns and Solar Turbine Heat Exchangers for extracting heat from the storage cisterns
  2. Solar Concentrator Winterization - consideration of freezing outdoor temperatures, necessary for year-round operation
  3. Linear steam dynamos
  4. Is it possible to adapt a solar turbine to switch back and forth from directly melting metal in a crucible to generating electricity? Or is a solar turbine so very different from a solar furnace that it would be better to build a completely separate solar furnace?

These are beyond the scope of the August convergence.

August Convergence: Prototype at Factor e Farm

Go the the Solar Turbine Prototype at Factor e Farm

Related Work

Mike Koch - Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, 2008, U. Missouri, Columbia - is interested in pursuing solar concentrator power systems for his Master's degree at Oregon State University. Here are notes in progress regarding his work:

Mike Koch Solar Energy Proposal

Solar Turbine Working Paper

Rick Thomas on solar

Geothermal Rankine cycle - UTC Purecycle