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This DIY Solar-Powered Steam Generator Can Reach 250 Celsius

Energy & Sustainability Science
This DIY Solar-Powered Steam Generator Can Reach 250 Celsius

Editorial note: This is one of the many cool projects to come out of the POC21 conference where 100 eco-hackers gathered in a French castle to brainstorm ways to improve the world.


Around 25% of the total energy used in industrialized countries is consumed as heat, much of it generated by burning fossil fuels. The Solar OSE team (Open Source Écologie France) took on this energy sustainability challenge during POC21, developing this solar concentrator to allow mid-sized local enterprises, like small-scale industries or artisans, to generate clean, free heat or steam by harnessing the power of the sun. Their DIY linear Fresnel reflector array collects and transforms solar energy into steam up to 250º Celcius.


Solar concentrators work by focusing the sun’s rays on a water pipe to generate steam. The Solar OSE uses Arduino-controlled motors to pivot the array of mirror strips at the base of the structure to track the sun, automatically maintaining optimal solar concentration on the pipe. The steam produced has many uses, some of which include: cooking, sterilization, pasteurization, distillation, chemical processes, heating, extraction of essential oils, water purification, wood treatment, and even… hammams.


The Solar OSE team is a part of the Open Source Ecology project which has developed an open source library of machines to rebuild the world as we know it. The project is fully documented on Instructables and can be built for around $2100 in a week with a dedicated crew. The project takes us a step further in the transition to a distributed, sustainable energy system.


Solar OSE recently ran a successful Kickstarter campaign, raising almost $9000 to build a solar concentrator that’s four times bigger and capable of producing 5kW. Now that’s hot stuff.

To view the entire project, check it out on Instructables.

8 thoughts on “This DIY Solar-Powered Steam Generator Can Reach 250 Celsius

  1. Bear Naff says:

    It uses 20 NEMA 17(?) steppers to position the mirrors. Surely someone could do better than that. This project is ridiculously wasteful.

    1. Sandra Salgado says:

      I have generated 74,000 dollars so far this year working online and I am a full time student. I am attached with an online business entity that I heard about and I have earned such great cash. It is really user friendly and I feel myself lucky to have that option ….rtggg

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    2. servant74 says:

      Great! What would you suggest? Sometimes earlier prototypes are not ‘economical’, so help in finding better solutions are always welcome.

    3. Dawn Danby says:

      As @servant74:disqus points out, this is a prototype and they’re working on the next version. There’s a ton of dialogue in the Instructables comments, and the team agrees with your point on stepper motors, and plan to address this in the next prototype. From the English-language comments: “On the tracking system, indeed we plan on using 1 single motor to track all mirror facets. It’s easy and straightforward because all mirrors rotate the same speed. The only challenge is keeping the orientation at 0.1° of precision.”

  2. s_f says:

    “Using carefully angled mirrors, this solar-powered steam generator can very hot. Read more »”

    Nice, but can that generator cheap?

    1. servant74 says:

      If you mean, can that generator be built that cheaply? The answer is yes. The better your scrounging skills the lower the cost. If you must purchase everything new from a top line supplier, I doubt is this economical. — Good shopping and scrounging skills really change the economics of projects.

      1. s_f says:

        I meant the grammar of the summary for the article is abysmal. :)

  3. Justin says:

    Why not a large curved reflector like most people use to build something like this? It would be a lot simpler to build and to point.

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Michael Floyd is a creative director and sustainability consultant. As Marketing Lead for Autodesk's Making for Impact program, his work supports and amplifies the positive environmental and social impact of the global maker community. Originally from the US, he has been a Londoner for seven years

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