The Solar Sinter designed by Markus Kayser uses the sun and a high-powered fresnel lens to make glass objects from silica sand directly in the Sahara desert. This design requires no factory, no factory line, and no lasers or resins. All that was required were the materials used to make the Sinter (which in time could probably make itself). After initial tests in Morocco’s desert, Kayser scaled up the machine and took it Egypt, near Siwa.
The Solar Sinter focuses the vast desert sunlight directly onto equally vast desert sands. Reaching temperatures of up to 1600 degrees Celsius (2912 Fahrenheit), the light melts the silica.
The sand is placed in a bowl beneath the lens, and the solar beam slides back and forth on an east/west axis, melting the sand as it goes. When a layer is complete, a new sprinkling of sand is placed on top, which is then also melted into the previous layer. This continues until an object has been created.
This extraordinary machine is fully-automated using computer controls. Light sensors track the sun’s journey across the sky and the whole contraption pivots at its base to produce the highest temperatures possible.
Once the optimum layers of sand have been processed by the solar beam, and have all melted into the desired form, the resulting object is left to cool. After that, it’s ready to go!
Kayser believes that in time, variations of the Solar Sinter could be used in full-scale architectural projects, creating a whole new desert vernacular that relies only on sand and sun. Now that is what we call sustainable!
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