Thursday, September 25, 2014

How to Ship a 10 Meter High Sunflower

Yesterday, Airlight Energy, a Swiss-based supplier of solar power technology announced a collaboration with IBM Research to bring affordable solar technology to the market by 2017. The system can concentrate the sun’s radiation 2,000 times and convert 80 percent of it into useful energy to generate 12 kilowatts of electrical power and 20 kilowatts of heat on a sunny day—enough to power several average homes.

The High Concentration PhotoVoltaic Thermal (HCPVT) system, which resembles a 10-meter-high sunflower, uses a 40-square-meter parabolic dish made of patented fiber-based concrete, which can be molded into nearly any shape in less than four hours and has mechanical characteristics similar to those of aluminum at one-fifth the cost.

I know about the project because I was involved and of course, with my SCM hat on, I asked about how the system will be shipped. While Airlight Energy hopes to partner with local firms to construct the systems they will initially build the sunflowers in Biasca, Switzerland and ship them in 40’ (12m x 2.5m x 2.5m) containers to the construction site. Below is a CAD model.



More details on the system can viewed in the video.

And if you are interested in testing one of the systems in your home town IBM and Airlight Energy are hosting a competition. For details visit

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