SMILE: Low-cost solar technology for the developing world
SMILE: Low-cost solar technology for the developing world
NON-PROFIT CAMPAIGN - Our ambition is to revolutionize the field of concentrated solar power through low cost microstructured foils.
NON-PROFIT CAMPAIGN - Our ambition is to revolutionize the field of concentrated solar power through low cost microstructured foils. Read more
About this project
Half the World today live without access to electricity.
Their only energy source is burning of wood, charcoal, kerosene, animal dung or garbage. Burning of these fuels on open fires causes extreme particle generation, CO2 and nitric oxide generation, damaging the local and global climate, adding up to between 1 and 2 times the total greenhouse gas emissions of the US, as well as being responsible for over 4 million deaths every year due to pneumonia, stroke, lung cancer and other particle caused diseases.
A typical family in the developing part of the world spends between 1/3 and half their income on fuels. Becoming independent of fossil fuels will help the local economy, help the local environment and have a significant impact on the global climate.
Most solar reflectors are made from glass. Glass is heavy, expensive and brittle. To overcome this challenge we have developed a flat plastic foil with micro mirrors to focus the sunlight. It is light, robust and cheap to produce. To further increase robustness and efficiency, we have embedded the micro mirrors within the foil, thereby protecting them from wear and scratches, and simultaneously increasing efficiency by around 50% by allowing for lower mirror tilt angles due to the extra refraction when the light leaves the foil.
To manufacture the micro mirrors in the polymer foil, we have combined state of the art industrial packaging technology with the latest advances within micro and nanotechnology, allowing roll-to-roll production of well defined micro or nanostructured foils at throughput up to 10 m2/s.
NOTE on approximate reward costs / currency exchange rates:
65 DKK ~= $10 / €9
330 DKK ~= $50 / €44
500 DKK ~= $75 / €67
650 DKK ~= $94 / €87
2000 DKK ~= $290 / €268
2200 DKK ~= $320 / €295
Of which approximately $50 is allocated to shipment where applicable.
We are Heliac, a Copenhagen-based company founded in 2014. Our business revolves around developing polymer foil based solar reflectors.
The main focus is Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) in both medium scale automated installations (50 kW units) and smaller, independent and handheld systems for the developing part of the world.
Heliac has 7 employees with background within optics, polymer processing and nanotechnology. Heliac is a member of the Global Alliance Clean Cookers backed by the United Nations.
Here is a timeline for Heliac and the future product development of SMILE:
- April 2014: demonstration of a 1*1 cm structure capable of deflecting the light
- May 2014: Founding of Heliac
- August 2014: First partly structured foil manufactured on pilot line
- October 2014: First fully covered foil manufactured with linear Fresnel gratings on pilot line
- December 2014: First handheld demonstrator tested
- April 2015: First foil manufactured on production line
- May 2015: First fully covered foil manufactured on production line
- June 2015: Launch of Kickstarter Campaign
- August 2015: Kickstarter Campaign concluded
- September 2015: Final specifications for SMILE foil ready
- October 2015: SMILE foil produced, DIY kits shipped
- November-December 2015: SMILE complete products shipped to backers and the developing world
Risks and challenges
Final specification of the foil needs to be made, but is based on known packaging manufacturing technology, and the main technological risk will be delays in the manufacturing due to extra iterations to optimize the product.
Much work will be put into making a product that is user friendly and intuitive, while simultaneously being robust and affordable.
The highest risk here is that the product will not be used due to cultural or traditional issues, and here ideas, comments and suggestions from the Kickstarter community will be as valuable to us as monetary contributions.
We are also looking for ambassadors for SMILE who are willing to teach others how to use it for both cooking, heating, cooling and clean water production.
We will establish an online community where people can connect, share ideas, recipes, drawings etc to fulfill the potential of solar power plants in the developing part of the world.
There has also been questions about safety issues and risks of using concentrated solar power (CSP) regarding burns and eye damages. Things get hot when you cook or boil water, regardless of using CSP or open fires. Caution has to be taken and common sense needs to be taken into account when using the SMILE, such as not touching the hot surfaces or staring directly into the (reflection of the) sun. However, we have ensured a relatively large focal area, in order to keep the intensity so low that it will not burn skin or damage the eyes during short time exposures. We are testing the use of the SMILE ourselves before releasing the product in order to minimize risks of use.
There has also been questions about used/broken SMILE's and the durability and garbage issue. The SMILE is made from 99.9% thermoplastics that can be recycled and 0.1% aluminum that can also be recycled. We estimate a durability of 5-10 years, if properly used and stored. We will make a refund model, so a small refund (a few $) is given when returning the used or broken SMILE to the reseller (once we have established such a network in the developing countries).Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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