Here Comes the Sun

by Gabrielle DeMarco on August 19, 2009

Every day at this time of year the apply named sunflower moves its massive flowers from east to west, following the movement of the sun across in the sky. The parallel promenade is the flower’s effort to capture as much energy-giving sunlight as possible – a trait known as heliotropism.

Researchers within the Center for Architecture Science and Ecology (CASE) are continuing work on a project that will literally change the entire facade of a building into a built heliotropic organism. Known as the Integrated Concentrating Solar Facade System, it is an entirely new and exceptionally beautiful system to harness the energy and heat of the sun.

The system is made up of individual solar cells set behind a lens of sculpted glass. Each vaguely hexagonal lens tracks the movement of the sun, capturing as much light and heat from the suns rays as possible at any given moment. It focuses those to a solar cell where it can be converted into electricity or hot water. Because the lenses are glass, they can be encased inside all the windows covering the facade of the building without obstructing your view of downtown. 

I just came across a video of Professors Anna Dyson and Michael Jensen discussing the technology, which prompted the post. Check it out here and then get out in the great weather and practice your own heliotropism (you could use the vitamin D).