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THE SOLAR RESOURCE SIMPLE APPLICATIONS OF SOLAR ENERGY The Suns rays have long been used as the heat source for evaporating and distilling water Solar evaporation has always been an important salt-production process Salt water is pumped into shallow ponds that are open to the Sun As the water evaporates its salts form crystals that settle at the bottom and are eventually collected Producing drinkable water from brine is accomplished in a solar still where salty water is evaporated The salt becomes concentrated in the bottom of the still basin while the water vapor rises condenses on the still cover as fresh water and is drawn off The solar cooking stove has become an important device in tropical countries where firewood is in short supply The stove may be simply a hot box an insulated container perhaps with a mirrored cover that intensifies the Suns heat More complex stoves have reflectors that focus sunlight directly on the cooking area or they use separate heat-collector devices that transfer heat to water inside a steam cooker Solar heat is also used throughout the world to dry agricultural crops fruits and vegetables SOLAR ENERGY USE IN BUILDINGS Both water and space heating are among the most successful small-scale applications of solar energy Thousands of systems of these types have been installed throughout the world Solar Collectors Solar collectors are devices that absorb solar energy and produce heat They are mounted on the roofs of buildings or in other areas that are open to direct sunlight and they are used for space heating and cooling and for heating water The flat-plate collector is made of a copper aluminum or steel heat-absorber plate the surface of which is blackened to make the plate more efficient in absorbing solar heat A heat-transfer liquid--usually a water-and-antifreeze solution--circulates through a set of tubes and removes heat from the plate The tubes may be attached to the plate or passageways
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