Odeillo Solar FurnaceADDPMP360
The Odeillo solar furnace is the world’s largest solar furnace. It is situated in Font-Romeu-Odeillo-Via, in the department of Pyrénées-Orientales, in the south of France. It is 54 metres (177 ft) high and 48 metres (157 ft) wide, and includes 63 heliostats. It was built between 1962 and 1968, and started operating in 1969, and has a power of one megawatt.
It serves as a science research site studying materials at very high temperatures.
The principle used is the concentration of rays by reflecting mirrors (9,600 of them). The solar rays are picked up by a first set of steerable mirrors located on the slope, and then sent to a second series of mirrors (the concentrators), placed in a parabola and eventually converging on a circular target, 40 cm in diameter, on top of the central tower.
Equivalent to concentrating the energy of “10,000 suns”, the solar furnace produces a peak power of 3200 kW.
The research areas are also extended to the aviation and aerospace industries. Experiments can be conducted there in conditions of high chemical purity. The high temperature materials division use the furnace to evaluate radome survival during MIRV warhead earth re-entry along with investigating other material properties under the “high energy thermal radiation environment” frequently produced by “nuclear devices”.