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The Kid Should See This

Can mirrors and ceramic sand solve our energy problem?

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How can a giant field of solar mirrors create enough energy to power over 200,000 homes? Physics Girl Dianna Cowern tours the Mojave Solar Project, a concentrated solar power (CSP) plant in the desert of San Bernardino County, California, to find out. Watch How Mirrors Could Solve our Energy Problem, one in a series of sponsored videos about renewable energy. Cowern explains:

“The ultimate goal of concentrated solar power is to drive a turbine. The sun hits mirrors that then reflect to a special material and heat it up, and that material boils water, and then the steam drives the turbine that creates electricity.”

how concentrated solar power works
concentrated solar power setups
Cowern reviews a few versions of this technology and also talks with Dr. Cliff Ho of Sandia National Labs in Livermore, California. Via video chat, he shares how sand-like ceramic particles can absorb and store heat from the concentrated sunlight, an innovative upgrade for energy storage.

How? That heat created from sunlight can still generate energy, even after the sun has set, because the ceramic sand takes around ten hours to cool down.

“We believe particles are the best option for going to higher temperatures for advanced power cycles. The particles are inexpensive, durable and non-corrosive. They can be stored directly, they don’t freeze and they can reach temperatures over 1,000 C.”

ceramic "sand" that can store heat
This sponsored video series from Physics Girl also includes 1800 miles in a hydrogen car, Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric vs Battery Electric, and the big problem facing renewable energy—energy storage.

Watch these related solar power videos next:
• 24/7 Concentrated Solar Thermal Power + Molten Salt Storage
• Can we get solar power to everyone who wants it?
A lemon-powered supercar and making the world’s largest lemon battery
• Using seawater and sunlight to grow sustainable food in the desert
• How do solar panels work?
• Stanford Solar Car Project: Racing on Sunshine, a documentary
• Fourth graders create a solar powered classroom

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