When people hear the word “solar,” many think of solar panels on a house, which generate electricity. But there is another way to use energy harnessed by the sun: heat.
Founding faculty member and Director of the University of California Advanced Solar Technologies Institute (UC Solar) Distinguished Professor Roland Winston has created several devices for solar thermal energy that have grabbed the California Energy Commission’s (CEC) attention.
Earlier this year the CEC awarded Winston’s company, Winston Cone Optics, $1.4 million to reduce emissions in the food processing industry. The company is working with Tyson Foods in San Lorenzo to find affordable ways to efficiently use solar thermal heating for an on-site boiler on an industrial scale. The company developed a solar water heater at salami processing facilities.
“The project will support the decarbonization effort of California’s commercial and industrial sectors and reduce dependence on natural gas by using a unique asymmetric non-imaging optical design and scaling up the technology through iterative demonstrations,” states the CEC.
So far, the project is progressing three months ahead of schedule, said Lun Jiang, chief executive officer of Winston Cone Optics. Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) and Hilmar Cheese Company have expressed interest in potentially utilizing the technology to answer their own environmental challenges.
Winston is considered the “father of non-imaging optics” and invented breakthrough technology in solar energy.