• Solar Front End Design for Volo One Engine


    We've completed the initial design concept for the Solar Front End of the Volo One Engine.

    The design focuses on improving solar energy capture by combining the engine with photovoltaic solar panels.

    The design is comprised of a tracking parabolic trough, lined with photovoltaic solar panels with the heat engine at the trough's focal point.

    The solar panels are coated with a solar film so that visible light passes through to the photovoltaic cells and longer wavelength light energy gets reflected to the engine.


    Here is a short video that takes you through the design.

    This is just the first step for the solar front end.  We don't have a materials list or working prototype of it at this time.  The estimated size of the solar front end is 10 feet x 6 feet x 5 feet.

    Let us know your thoughts on this design.



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  • Comments on this post (4 comments)

    • Anthony Lithgow says...

      Following up on Matthew’s comment: The angle of incidence of light falling on the panels, esp. the outboard panels, results in an effective decrease in efficiency. Unless the panels are normal to the sun’s rays, the stated efficiency won’t be achieved, and the overall design may become cost-ineffective.
      Also, don’t forget to factor into your calculations the efficiency loss due to shading by the heat engine structure. I second Matthew’s comment: “focus” on improving the system efficiency of the heat engine and concentrator.

      On April 16, 2015

    • Matthew Rosso says...

      Given the inefficiency of photovoltaic panels, the addition of those panels would seem to be an unnecessary expense and a distraction away from your primary design goals. Solar panels are flat, and are not going to give you the concentrated focal point you are looking for. A simpler, much cheaper, and arguably more effective design would use a polished aluminum sheet to form the parabolic backing/lens that would give you the highest temperature at a given focal point.

      If a vacuum is not possible, a dry gas (e.g., nitrogen) would be the next best, as humidity will soak up some of the thermal energy you are trying to transmit to the engine itself.

      Since this is a solar-powered version of the engine, the cool end should be shaded by a reflective material that will keep as much heat away as possible. Ideally, that sunlight would be reflected and focused onto the hot end of the engine where the other solar reflector is aiming.

      On November 23, 2014

    • Dan Burger says...

      Tim, we had a lunch appointment scheduled at Rose’s Restaurant in Canton back in the spring, but I had to cancel, family thing got in the way. That has passed and I would like to set that up again….. I have a solar power system that will store vast amounts of solar heat to be called into play whenever needed, regardless of the sun availability at any given time, day or night….

      On September 21, 2014

    • David Smith says...

      What you need is to have a fire box heat line hooked up to the glass enclosure around the hot end, such at night or cloudy days you can keep running the engine with some sort of heat generated from the combustion from the fire box. In this way you utilize the engine 24-7.

      Also dont forget to shade the cold end, out here the difference between the shade and the direct sun can be 20 deg F.

      On September 11, 2014

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