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East Tenn. inventor gives steam power a solar spin

A Greenback-based designer and inventor is putting a new spin on an old idea to create a low-cost, high-efficiency solar heating solution that he wants to manufacture in East Tennessee.

Matthew Davis, a 1995 industrial design graduate of Purdue University, has developed a solar boiler electrical generator and heat machine that converts solar energy to usable steam for heating, cooling and power generation, reports Hugh Willet in today's News Sentinel.

Davis has entered his idea into the NASA Tech Brief's Create the Future Design Contest.

At the heart of Davis' system is a century-old idea -- first developed by electrical pioneer Nikola Tesla -- based on a highly efficient steam-driven turbine. The spinning turbine is used to drive a generator to produce electricity.

Davis has also designed a unique parabolic trough mirror that focuses the sunlight on a "receiver" that heats the water and makes steam to drive the turbine. The mirror is made of cast concrete covered in an acrylic reflective material.

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