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DPRG: Solar powered wheel

Subject: DPRG: Solar powered wheel
From: Clay Timmons ctimmons at asic.sc.ti.com
Date: Tue Feb 3 16:05:27 CST 1998

> > Liquids that get heavy with heat?  Sounds fishy to me.
> > E=mc^2 so you would need quite a bit of energy (heat)
> > to convert to matter (mass) to make a significant weight
> > shift.
> Yep, believe it or not.  I saw something on PBS where
> someone constructed a huge wheel that was supposed to
> turn a generator by allowing the sun to heat up the top
> of the wheel which caused it to turn to the bottom.  There
> were several sections and as the wheel turned, the next
> section would be on top, get heated and turn to the bottom.
> However, as you said, the process was so slow that it
> never "turned" a profit!  ;-)

I too have seen an article about a huge wheel that rotates in sunlight.
Sunlight heats the wheel, about 8-12' diameter, causing it to turn
very slowly. It produced producing about 1/2 horsepower in bright sunlight.  
The wheel had sections which were cross-coupled across the center via 
spoke-like tubes.  The sections were filled with a propane.  Compressed 
propane is normally liquid at "outdoor" temperatures.  The sunglight warms
the propane which "boils" off forcing gas thru the cross feed tube to the
opposite side.  Since the opposite side is cooler (in the shade) it 
condenses to liquid again.  Note that the wheel is heated at the bottom 
by sunlight and cooler at the top using some type of shading device.  
The wheel rotates from the weight shift of the heavier liquid propane
>from the bottom to the top of the wheel.

- -Clay Timmons


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