Font-Romeu-Odeillo-Via or simply Odeillo, is a commune in the Pyrenees mountains near the Spanish border in the south of France and is one of the sunniest places on earth. With over 3,500 hours of sunshine per year, it’s no surprise that Odeillo is home to the world’s largest solar furnace.
Built in 1969 by the National Scientific Research Center, the solar furnace consist of a field of 63 heliostatic mirrors mounted on terraces on the surrounding hillside which bounce the sun’s rays onto a large concave mirror. This focuses an enormous amount of sunlight onto an area roughly the size of a cooking pot, raising its temperature to 3,500 degrees Centigrade. The parabolic mirror itself is built out of 10,000 individual mirrors and covers an area of almost 2,000 square meters.
The solar furnace is used by the National Scientific Research Center for studying heat transfer fluid systems, energy converters and the behavior of materials at high temperatures. These fields are of particular interest to the aerospace industry.
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