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Solar funnel project.

Natural materials such as cotton and natural rawhide fit here. But it could be dough or water too.

Solar funnel project.

Postby Charlie » Tue May 17, 2011 8:45 am

Here's a solar funnel experiment I've been playing with. It's aluminum flashing, four 4' long x 1' wide sections riveted together and cut to fold and form the funnel shape and covered with reflective tape. Set it and forget it, from about 9:30am to 3:30pm this baby will do its thing!

As is, with the clear 5gal pickle jar and a cylinder of copper inside for a heat absorber, it will heat water to 112F in about 3 hours but will not get any hotter, but this is on a cool day. The 2gal glass jar I used in the better bottle amazing still with a gallon size pickle jar set inside full of DWWG colored with molasses will get to 170F pretty darn quick and condensate over a pint back into the bottom of the 2gal jar while I'm at work, no moving of the cone. I'm probably losing some vapours since the lid is not air tight so I plan on making something similar to Donner's mini solar still with ACW's copper funnel I ordered as the "jar head" running off to a worm setup.

Will try some variations with the 5gal jar as for coloring the contents but I don't think it will ever get good results as is and the opening is too small to set a large enough jar into it to do any quantity. I thought maybe soldering some flat caps onto the bottoms of several lengths of 2" copper pipe and setting them inside the 5gal jar, full of wash.

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Will get a pic this evening of the 2gal jar in action which I poured a gallon of grape wine into the inner jar before leaving for work this morning. I also just ordered a roll of regulation peel & stick solar vinyl material for further solar projects. My brother donated an old parabolic sattelite dish and I'm building some box ovens.
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Re: Solar funnel project.

Postby jake_leg » Tue May 17, 2011 9:27 am

This definitely much more amazing than the amazing still. :8)
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Re: Solar funnel project.

Postby Charlie » Tue May 17, 2011 3:01 pm

Thanks :D

It's 2:30pm CST and the grape wine is boiling at 182 degrees F. Guess it's not water! There's a constant downflow of condensate that doesn't act like water drops (sheeting action) all over the jar and oddly enough I don't think it's losing much vapours. Checked around the jar lid with a mirror and no fogging. I will measure the product this evening and put that much water back in the jar to see if it brings it back up to the starting level. Will be interesting to see the ABV of the condensate when it's all done. When I lifted the lid to check the temp it smelled just like grape jelly canning with a definite whif of spirits.

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I wonder if grape cool aid mixed with a clear DWWG wash would darken it up enough to give good heating results like this? Will try it next on the list but the weather outlook has us cloudy and thunderstorms chances for the next week.
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Re: Solar funnel project.

Postby Charlie » Tue May 17, 2011 6:41 pm

Ended at 5:00pm and sat the jars inside on the cabinet under the air vent where it continued to steam/condense for another 30 minutes. Ended up with 1.5 cups of 45% ABV grape brandy that tastes a helluva lot better than the wine from which it came! Actually tastes awesome.

Figured by measurements I lost about .5 cup through vapour loss around the lid. That's fairly significant so next run I will put a bead of flour paste around the jar lip and a few spring clamps. It was boiling fairly well when I got home from work but no telling how much it boiled from noon till then when the sun was right above and is probably where I lost. Maybe it boiled out the heads is why it tastes so good!

Image

I'm very happy after all and will continue to improve.
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Re: Solar funnel project.

Postby jake_leg » Mon Jun 20, 2011 7:27 am

Yeah sounds like you aired it out already. :)
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Re: Solar funnel project.

Postby SuburbanStiller » Wed Jun 22, 2011 1:27 am

Dammit, another whacky awesome idea I need to try! :mg:

I'm going to guess that you lose just as much even if you use flour paste because your base solution is going to expand as it evaporates and punch right thru your seal. If you could have some kind of captive pressure release, where you could allow the volume of gas to expand and contract but not allow raw vapor out.. hell I don't know how to build it. I'm just spitballing.

I really like your setup. What about a molasses / brown sugar based wash? That's what I'm playing with these days and it finishes really dark from all the crapola leftovers.

You mention CST, are you in the Denver area? You get a helluva lot more sunshine than we do here. I'm jealous.
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Re: Solar funnel project.

Postby schnell » Tue Aug 16, 2011 6:38 am

You've built a solar concentrator. You've also noticed that the focal point moves during the day and needs tracking. This is because you have a circular window intercepting the suns path. The reflection focuses on a point. But the moving sun also moves the focal point.

An easier method is to make a trough. A trough running east west will have a focal point that looks like a line. As the sun moves, the focal point also moves ALONG the LINE! This makes it easier to build your receiver for the heat, because you can use old fashioned plumbing line.

Traditionally troughs are used by adjusting once a day for elevation changes due to the season progressing. Tracking can also be addded for increased efficiency, but the beauty of this design is it's ease of use and and optimized geometry which increases your intercept window into a rectangle with length X, where X is the length of your plumbing.

A trough can be made simply by bending sheet into a parabola (best) or laying two mirros at 90 degrees (easiest). Traditionally they are laid down horizontally and a heat exchanger or storage system attached. The heat exchange fluid is often simply circulated when the sun shines.

An upgrade I suggest we mess with is to use a heat pipe, which is simple to build. This would be the ULTIMATE upgrade to a trough concentrator for a still. We should discuss it more.

I once made a heat exchanger based solar still, but would love to build one with a heat pipe instead of the heat exchanger, pump, storage etc. A solar concentrator with heat pipe on a pot still or continuous still would be a very useful thing to have around.
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Re: Solar funnel project.

Postby zedzedtop » Tue Aug 16, 2011 2:13 pm

You'd still need 2-axis tracking for a trough. Could make moving the tube relative to the dish one of those I suppose....
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