Solar River (2012)

In 1945, Felix Trombe experimented in the Pyrenees with concentrating solar power in order to work with the fusion of rare earth metals. Using two mirrors opposing mirrors, he was able to concentrate the sun’s rays in a controlled manner. In 1949, Trombe built the first large-scale parabolic solar furnace to concentrate the sun’s energy from 30 square feet to 6 square inches. The temperature at the focal point could reach 6,330 °F and the heat was used to generate electricity or melt steel. Today, this same technology is being used for different reasons by the organization Solare Brucke from Aislingen, Germany. They have developed a low cost concentrating solar technology for community kitchens in dry regions of the world. At the focal point of a concentrating mirror, light inflects and creates a double cone. This inflection point becomes visible to the eye only when the atmosphere is dense with water vapor or fire. This project seeks to capture that effect. The Solar River was made from a mirror and the concentration of sunlight situated on Fire Pond at the MacDowell Colony in Petersborough, NH. Through light-weight, large-scale mirrors, sunlight was reflected into a set of two intersecting halos three feet above the water level. The project is meant to demonstrate the potential of ambient energy in the atmosphere and give visible meaning to water level rise and the local effects of global climate change.