Using an oversized magnifying glass—a fresnel lens carved into polished polycarbonate—this Solar Metal Smelter can melt metals like zinc and aluminum. The huge device was designed and built by Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Jelle Seegers.
Seegers is experimenting with carbon-neutral machines—”sustainable tools powered by direct natural or human power”—through a series of design and engineering projects. Via Dezeen, he explains:
“We’re now in this energy transition. We’re going more towards wind power, solar power, all these things but we’re not changing our mentality on how we use energy.
“I really advocate for using energy when it’s there and in the shape that we get it. For example the sun’s heat, we can use it as heat and as light during the day.”
Made with a frame of upcycled stainless steel, the solar metal smelter can be hand-cranked into positions that most efficiently direct sunlight through the five-meter (16.4-foot) wide lens and into the crucible.
“The Solar Metal Smelter produces about four kilowatts of energy at a temperature of about 800 to 1,000 degrees Celsius and can melt a maximum of 20 kilograms of zinc or five kilograms of aluminium at one time.”
Seegers then pours the melted metal into a handmade oil-bound sand mold. There, it will harden into its cast shape.
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