Rolla, MO (PRWEB) December 04, 2012
No, it’s not a car with solar panels plastered all over it. By converting a gasoline engine to run on solar energy, inventors Matt Bellue and Ben Cooper have an entirely different goal in mind: To provide the world with a clean, affordable way to generate electricity.
The thought of running a combustion engine on solar power may sound a bit far-fetched and crazy, but these innovative guys believe they’re onto something significant and have already built a small prototype.
HydroICE stands for “Hydro Internal Clean Engine” and here’s how they propose their new system will work. Using mirrored solar collectors, they heat oil to a blistering 400-700°F. That hot oil is then injected into the cylinder of the engine, much like gasoline would be. Instead of a spark, a small burst of water is added. As soon as the water contacts the heated oil, it instantly flashes to steam and that expansion drives the engine, just like gasoline does when it is ignited. Hook that engine to a generator and you’ve got low-cost, clean electricity.
After months of development and prototyping, they’re ready to move onto the next phase: Testing. The inventors’ company, Missouri Sustainable Energy, has been working closely with two prestigious universities in Missouri: Missouri University of Science and Technology (MS&T) in Rolla and Missouri State University (MSU) in Springfield. After presenting details of the project, both schools responded enthusiastically and agreed to work with MSE to get the testing completed.
“The ability to generate electricity from solar energy has been around for decades, but it’s just too expensive for people to be able latch onto as a primary way of providing electricity,” says Bellue. “In 2010, only 0.029% of the United States’ electricity was generated from solar energy. The Department of Energy stated that if the cost of installed solar energy systems could be reduced by 75%, it would drive widespread adoption of the renewable energy technology. We saw that as a challenge and went for it."
The team is trying to raise the funds necessary to complete the testing on the popular crowdfunding website Indiegogo.com. “We’ve financed the entire project out of our own pockets simply because we love what we do and we have a strong passion to see this technology become available worldwide,” Cooper explains.
They’re halfway through their 30-day campaign on Indiegogo and would like to to invite you to view their project at http://www.indiegogo.com/hydroice and consider contributing as little as $1 to helping the development of affordable solar energy.