Academic journal article Electronic Green Journal

Review: The Power of Light: The Epic Story of Man's Quest to Harness the Sun

Academic journal article Electronic Green Journal

Review: The Power of Light: The Epic Story of Man's Quest to Harness the Sun

Article excerpt

Review: The Power of Light: The Epic Story of Man's Quest to Harness the Sun By Frank T. Kryza Frank T. Kryza. The Power of Light: The Epic Story of Man's Quest to Harness the Sun. New York: McGraw Hill, 2003. 299 pp. ISBN 0-07-140021- 4 (trade cloth). US$24.95. Recycled acid-free paper.

In The Power of Light, former energy industry professional and reporter Frank T. Kryza tells the historical story of inventor Frank Shuman's attempt to create viable solar energy technology. The work focuses on Kryza's failed attempt to convince the world to go to solar around the turn of the 20th century, resulting in the perpetuation of the use of coal and the advent of the Petroleum Age.

The book does cover previous inventors like Greek philosopher Archimedes who is said to have suggested the use of solar power as a weapon (with mirrors) to burn approaching Roman ships, and Leonardo da Vinci, who advised the use of solar power for peaceful uses. Also recounted are the efforts of other solar power inventors: Athanasius Kircher, Abu Ali al-Hasan al-Haitham, Augustin Eneas, Aubrey Eneas, John Ericsson, William Adams, and others. Although the story goes back and forth in time showing how some inventors built on the work of others, the historical tale does not continue into our modern use of solar energy to power space probes.

Much of the action takes place in turn-of-the-century Egypt where Frank Shuman designed a solar steam engine which "produced up to 75 horsepower, enough to pump 6000 gallons of Nile river water a minute into the cotton fields, work previously done by platoons of weary workers. The solar collectors caught 40 percent of the available solar energy, exhibiting much better efficiency than earlier models" (p. 241).

The world though, in the advent of World War I, made the switch from coal to petroleum rather than to solar. In the historical analysis, petroleum was found to be more efficient and dependable, especially for the war effort, with Britain making the change from coal to oil for their warships. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.