Open Source Solar

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Steve Nelson's Zenman Energy Open Source Solar Steam Engine

David DiSalvo:

"What makes Nelson noteworthy, beyond the solar power technology he’s invented, is that unlike most everyone else trying to score in this market, Nelson’s vision for success includes giving away the technology for others to replicate and improve upon. You might call it “open source solar,” and if it catches on, Nelson will be the guy credited with its success, even though he’ll be none the wealthier for it.

And according to Nelson, that’s just fine with him. He established Zenman Energy as a non-profit corporation fueled by donations instead of investor capital. From a garage operation, he’s now working out of a warehouse where the components of his innovative solar tech are being hatched."

The Solar Steam Engine:

"- Zenman Energy is attempting to create a low cost solar steam engine generator. This generator works by focusing a large surface area of sunlight onto a smaller area. The energy in the sunlight concentrates and produces vast quantities of heat. To increase the amount of energy, we increase the surface area of sunlight. We convert this heat into mechanical energy by boiling water and turning a steam engine. The steam engine will power an electric motor which ties directly into the power grid.

Nelson freely admits, “This is not a new concept.” But the design and implementation of the concept is what makes it significantly different.

- We hope to create a low cost, expandable solution that can create power plants of any size, from a few kilowatts up to many megawatts. Once we have a working prototype our entire focus will be directed at reducing the overall system cost and helping individuals and organizations construct their own. Our first attempt at reducing the expense of the overall system is using less expensive materials in the construction of these plants. Some of the components for these power plants can be purchased locally from hardware stores. Other parts take a considerable amount of research to just find suppliers. Finally some of the components are custom made. We want to simplify this process so anyone in the world can easily get started making either a backyard solar power plant or buy acreage and build much larger power plants. If we mass produce the custom components, and mass purchase other parts we can dramatically reduce the cost and make medium to large scale solar plants achievable by a much larger population. Our end goal is to help make solar power plants that cost less than any other form of electricity generation. Most importantly, we want to help YOU make a solar power plant that can power, not your house, but your entire neighborhood." (

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