Solar Sand Converter - Solving the sand problem

Convert desert sand in to construction sand to make up for the massive shortfall in supply.

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A solar sinter and crusher to convert desert sand to construction sand.

Construction uses river sand or sand from crushed rocks, both of which are cubic (or at least angular) and free from contaminants, but they are in short supply and people are being murdered over it. Sea sand is also angular, but can react with other chemicals resulting in dangerous buildings. Sea sand can be dredged in order to extend coastlines, but this causes environmental damage. Desert sand is round and does not bind well, resulting in weak concrete. Recycled glass could be used, but needs preparing and is expensive.

Which leads me back to desert sand.

A few years ago Markus Kayser created the Solar Sinter Project, which used desert sand and focused sunlight to 3d print objects. This same technique could be used to convert desert sand in to rocks, that can crushed in to construction sand, the same way rocks are already and glass can be.

To calibrate this project, I set up #Measuring Extreme Temperatures

  • Wired Video about illegal sand mining

    haydn jones06/22/2015 at 14:08 0 comments
  • Some Maths

    haydn jones06/02/2015 at 14:24 0 comments

    So according to wikipedia "The reflectivity of bright aluminum foil is 88% while dull embossed foil is about 80%", this is far better than I thought. Markus Kaysers SolarSinter Project, appeared to use 4 lenses of about 6ft x 4ft total area, while I doubt these are focusing all available light, I am going to assume 100% efficiency for his design, as any increase of power for me will be a bonus.

    So I will assume that Markus design is 120cm x 180cm for a total of 21600cm^2 of light collecting area. At 80% efficiency i will need 27000cm^2 of light collecting area, or more if i need to.

    So I plan on using a 200cm x 200cm square reflector, and loosing 20% for the focusing mirror, so 40000cm2 - 20% = 32000cm2 light collecting area.

    Assuming Markus design is running at 100% and my own is 80%, this should give me at least 18.5% more power.

  • Total Re-Think

    haydn jones05/27/2015 at 20:50 0 comments

    The lens I bought was awful. Its focal point was too close to the surface, so I couldn't use multiples along side, and large lenses were prohibitively expensive. This has to be repeatable, and rear projection tv's never really took off in the uk, and i suspect not in the target countries either. So plan B......

    (PS, I'm not 5, that just my handwriting)

    So the idea is to use conventional foil to make a parabolic mirror in the style of a reflector telescope. The cost benefit should outweigh the loss of light and this could be made from a light wood frame , some papier-mache and a conventional mirror (and math of course)

  • Waiting + Call for advice

    haydn jones04/28/2015 at 13:14 5 comments

    So I have my lenses shipping from China, but I am struggling to find a non contact thermometer that can go to 2-3000'C. Anyone know of something that will be suitable under £30?

    The first stage will be a scale model, melting something at lower temps. Will update when i have something to show.

    EDIT. Lens arrived from the UK, and i have set up #Measuring Extreme Temperatures to estimate the tempratures reached.

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option8films wrote 09/01/2015 at 02:57 point

Thank you so much for getting this idea out into the digital space. I too was inspired by the WIRED article and felt an alternative approach was needed urgently. I have a degree in geology, am passionate about environmental causes and am a total hound for solar projects so I had this exact same idea. I believe that with enough engineering and financial backing, this is a totally viable concept that could be scaled to industrial production capacity and alter construction manufacturing forever for the better. I will help in any way I can to push this forward. Cheers!

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davedarko wrote 06/02/2015 at 14:52 point

btw. - whenever you got this working we will have to talk about getting a molten glass bowl to me, or I'll fly over and we burn some sand together :D this should fund itself after some bowls.

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haydn jones wrote 06/02/2015 at 15:34 point

I'd prefer to visit Berlin :) Havent left uk for over 10 years.

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davedarko wrote 06/02/2015 at 15:43 point

And I thought I don't get around much... well with recent developments at my work that changed. I might see 4 different countries (3 different continents) this year. 

I don't think you could take that machine with you though. I should get a visitors couch/bed for my lab/working room. Might be awesome for power naps, too.

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haydn jones wrote 06/02/2015 at 18:33 point

i want it to set up like a tent or umbrella, so wont be very big at all traveling.

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suicidal.banana wrote 04/20/2015 at 16:07 point

Love the idea, but wondering if you will be able to create the needed heat, a quicky google tells me your gonna need roughly 1650'C to melt sand, you may wanna start looking into some fancy jig with multiple lenses all focussing on 1 spot to achieve such a temprature, because im not sure a single lens will get you that far (especially a lens like the one you linked too, wich hardly focusses light, your gonna want '3d lenses' for starters)

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haydn jones wrote 04/20/2015 at 16:23 point

This guy gets to 2000' And the solar sinter video shows sand melting in action, with an array of 4 lenses. I will try by trial and error with cheaper lenses and see what i can come up with :)

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suicidal.banana wrote 04/21/2015 at 15:39 point

Ah nice (do note that he talks Farenheit, your gonna need rougly 3000'F to melt sand) didnt know it would be that easy to get so much heat from the sun though, good to hear, keep us posted on the progress :)

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haydn jones wrote 04/21/2015 at 15:45 point

I noticed that after posting, forgot to correct myself :) How well I can test in the UK is another matter....

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Stefan-Xp wrote 04/20/2015 at 15:20 point

Great, but wouldnt it be also nice to create Bricks and Parts for building?

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haydn jones wrote 04/20/2015 at 15:34 point

Possibly, but that would require layering like 3d printing, or molding. Making small 'rocks' to be crushed, requires very little skill and could be a small cottage industry, much in the way that people collect scrap metals for recycling.

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davedarko wrote 04/20/2015 at 15:52 point

Okay, now I really wonder how many projection TVs there are exported as trash in Africa where the lens survived. 

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haydn jones wrote 04/20/2015 at 15:59 point

This is what i was planning to prototype with. I will need to find someone on here with access to desert to try it out and send me samples to continue.

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davedarko wrote 04/20/2015 at 16:07 point

I'm drifting away a bit, but ended with a strandbeast pulling a big lens or many small ones behind itself :) 

Anyway - would be cool to have some microscopic pictures of the sand types you'll get and have and also see your results on that scale. Do you think a lens in this size will be enough?

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haydn jones wrote 04/20/2015 at 16:21 point

The solar sinter video used an array of 4, so scaling looks possible. Will definatly need samples under microscope, as well as making some small bars to test strength etc.

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davedarko wrote 04/19/2015 at 12:04 point

Would a parrotfish farm would make any sense? I've just read they would "produce" 90kg sand per year from eating coral rocks.

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haydn jones wrote 04/19/2015 at 12:19 point

Sea sand doesn't work well for construction due to environmental contaminants, which I  suspect the coral and parrot fish need.

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davedarko wrote 04/19/2015 at 12:34 point

I thought if it would be a farm you could keep track of the level of contamination and determine the environment - at least so you know what to get rid of etc. but yeah, it was a quick thought.

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