Catenary solar reflector

Catenary solar reflector


Tho X. Bui has been working with solar reflection concentrators based on the catenary curve, a curve made naturally by a hanging chain (the shape is made by gravity). He writes:

Instead of having to buy sheet metal and form it into a complex shape, then build a structure to maintain that shape rigid, the catenary reflector only require the simplest of the external frame and a piece of flexible reflecting material. Even a common sheet of plastic with one silvery side will do the job. For most of my prototypes, common aluminum foil glued to wood and cardboard does the job. For industrial, large-dimension operations, thin bright finished stainless steel sheet can do the job.

Here in our neck of the woods (Phoenix), the sun is constantly on our minds. It’s good to see a maker in the valley of the sun actually doing something useful with it! – Link.


Make a solar kitchen – Link.

8 thoughts on “Catenary solar reflector

  1. Peter says:

    Very elegant. This is especially useful because a catenary approximates a parabola, the most efficient shape for a reflector. Parabolas reflect all light entering them (parallel to their axis) onto a single point, the focus (which is where the object to be heated goes)

  2. Don says:

    The ancient Greeks mistook the catenary for the parabola.

  3. extracrispy says:

    cool!thought like yours can quantum leap technology .

  4. ocie says:

    not to rain on your parade, but how long will the reflective surface stay shiny? This might work for demonstration purposes or to quickly cook something, but over time, it seems like the metal will oxidize, get dirty, or with Al foil, just tear.

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Becky Stern is a Content Creator at Autodesk/Instructables, and part time faculty at New York’s School of Visual Arts Products of Design grad program. Making and sharing are her two biggest passions, and she's created hundreds of free online DIY tutorials and videos, mostly about technology and its intersection with crafts. Find her @bekathwia on YouTube/Twitter/Instagram.

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