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When the sun rises from the East in the morning, this heater is designed to sense the direction of its rays and then turn towards the Sun. Think about sunflower 🌻.

“The heater will then spend the whole day chasing the Sun until it is facing the West just before sunset,” says the National University of Lesotho (NUL) Masters in Sustainable Energy student, Molibeli Rakauoane. The result? Any liquid being heated is super-hot in a matter of seconds and it can do many things including generating electricity.


MILCO is a chainstore that will sell ONLY Made In Lesotho Products. Join Milco here: https://milco.co.ls/Member_register

Rakauoane is working with Tabempe Lesenyeho and Thaane ‘Mokose. They are supervised by Professor Leboli Thamae and Dr Naleli Matjelo. The work is under the combined ambrella of the NUL Innovation Hub and the NUL Energy Research Centre.

Here is the story.

The team started by developing complex Physics equations meant to capture the rays of the sun and then direct them to a single pipe containing water or any fluid to heat it.

Once the equations were done, it was time to put them to the test.

These young dudes are practical.

They were hell-bent on putting those equations to the test by deploying them in a real concentrated solar heater they themselves built.

“That was not easy,” Rakauoane said. “Look, we have trained in Physics. Going on and putting those Physics equations into something tangible is something else.” He and his team had a lot to learn, right from machinery and equipment used to build the heater, to the best kind of materials to use to build the heater.

It was crazy but they did it!

How is this solar heater going to work once it is completed?

In the morning, upon sunrise, it “wakes up.” You see, it was facing West the whole night. Now it has sensed that the sun has risen. So it immediately turns to the East and starts facing the Sun. Why? Because it needs to collect as much of the Sun’s rays as possible. “We are equiping it with sensors that will detect the direction of the sun’s rays and then steer it in that direction,” Rakauoane said.

So as the Sun “moves” accross the sky, the solar heater moves along with it. Yes, when the sun is just above our heads during the midday, the heater will be facing directly up.

No mistakes.

The heater just wants to milk the energy.

When the Sun sets, it leaves the collector facing the East. “It will stay in that position until morning when it “feels” the sun’s rays coming from the East.”

It will now turn its “head” towards the East—Again.

And the whole process repeats itself, again and again.

Now, here is something interesting. When the rays come in, they hit the heater on its shiny surface. A shiny surface is meant to drive away the Sun’s rays as soon as they land on it. You might notice on the pictures that the surface is also curved. That is where the Physics equations come in. The curve is such that no matter where the sun heats the shiny surface, the rays are not just sent away to random places.

Rather the rays are sent towards the pipe at the centre.

“We dont want to lose a single ray— if possible,” he said.

That is the genius of the whole thing compared to the flat plate solar collectors we talked about weeks back. Here the idea is to send all the reflected solar rays to a single pipe. Recall that this pipe can contain any liquid you want to heat up. So as the liquid passes through the pipe, it gets heated. If, unlike water, it is a liquid that has a very high boiling point, then, it can get super-hot!

There are many ways to use this heater.

You can just use it in your home to heat water. Since it’s highly efficient (it quickly heats the water right to the boiling point), some modifications will be made to make it suitable for home use. In homes, it can also be used to heat liquids that keep walls and floors warmer thoughout winter.

More importantly, the heater has industrial uses too. It can turn water into steam which will, in turn, be used to drive turbines that generate electricity. Interestingly, it can also be used in agricultural greenhouses to keep them warm so they can generate food year round.


MILCO is a chainstore that will sell ONLY Made In Lesotho Products. Join Milco here: https://milco.co.ls/Member_register


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