The next step in solar energy is to directly use the Sun’s rays to illuminate homes. No solar panels

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What if there were other ways to take advantage of sunlight in our homes? What if we could use it to illuminate windowless rooms or even heat water, all without the need for large photovoltaic panels? A couple of questions that the industrial designer Mariusz Smietana posed some time ago , determined to find new strategies to take advantage of the Sun’s rays at home. The result of these reflections is Lumora, an invention that combines some ancient ideas and concepts. with modern technology and which we now know in detail thanks to its participation in the James Dyson Award.

The objective: to take advantage of this enormous source of light and energy whose enormous potential Elon Musk recently reflected on .

“Transporting sunlight” . That is the objective of Smietana: to collect the light of the Sun and then “transport” it to dark rooms where both its brightness and its heat can be used. And all with a system that allows you to “manipulate and regulate” the light, direct it in a “flexible” way and even “personalize” it thanks to the combination of several sources and cooling systems.

The idea of ​​taking advantage of the light and heat of the Sun with the help of mirrors is by no means new , but Smietana has decided to explore it using resources such as heliostats, Fresnel lenses and fiber optics. Its purpose is also very specific: to offer an alternative to artificial lighting, even if that requires “bringing sunlight where it is ‘physically’ impossible.”

Chasing the Sun. For its purpose, Lumora basically uses a heliostat system that transports sunlight to dark spaces. Its operation is relatively simple: it concentrates sunlight with the help of Fresnel lenses and collimators mounted on the solar tracking heliostat and then transmits it via fiber optics to a luminaire. “This is how sunlight is used to illuminate rooms or plant crops,” Smietana shares in his invention file.

During his tests he created a device composed of a panel with 16 independent Fresnel lenses, collimators and a fiber optic transmission system. When building it, he opted for milled aluminum because of the optical properties it offers once processed and its advantages as a heat sink, which reduces the risk of melting the fiber. To properly calibrate the system and its resistance, the engineer also opted for a construction with aluminum and polycarbonate.

Looking at the lenses. “The minimalist design of the heliostat and small PV panel provides two-axis solar tracking using a linear motor and a rotating platform, making the project energy independent,” notes its creator. “The final element was an ergonomic and economical that allows you to frame and manipulate the light. I used a lens to blur and focus it, and diaphragms to shape it.”

One of the peculiarities of Lumora that differentiates it from other similar systems is that it incorporates several small Fresnel lenses instead of one large one, a change that “significantly increases the efficiency of the system and allows it to be more adaptable to the limited space of a roof,” according to Smietana’s calculations. Thanks to the combination of multiple independent light sources, the system allows for “flexible and personalized steering.”

More light, healthier. This effort to bring the Sun to the dark rooms of our buildings, without windows or natural light, does not respond to a whim or extravagance. Smietana highlights the importance of the sun in biological rhythms and warns of the “negative effects” of artificial lighting. “Especially in the workplace,” says the industrial designer, who recalls that even Africa needs safe ways to harness the Sun’s energy.

“In this way, sunlight is used to illuminate rooms or plant crops. This affects not only the economic aspect but also significantly improves our health, both physical and mental,” reflects Lumora’s father . As an example, he assures that with his system the “natural perception” of paintings that have been painted by artists with natural light can be taken care of.

Concrete data . Beyond metaphors or examples, Smietana also provides concrete calculations. “Assuming that from 1m² the sun generates 1000W, of which 45% is visible light when converted into lumens, we can assume that the system generates 33,480 lux/m² per hour in full sun,” explains the engineer. “This means than to illuminate: 33 workstations (with a need of 500lx/m2), or 230 paintings (with a dimension of 50×70) for about 4.5 hours a day (data for Poland)”.

Looking at the future. Smietana claims that his invention “opens the way” to achieve better use of solar energy and its use in crops, improving the quality of life or even, he insists, “naturally observing the art that was created before the invention of the light bulb”. For now, she assures that the design he uses is simple and low-cost, which facilitates its implementation even in Third World countries. Now his goal is to simplify the system as much as possible, further reduce production costs, and even look for new applications.

“I plan to use the heat emitted by the sun for purposes such as distilling water or heating vegetable crops. I want to promote sustainability and access to the necessary technologies for communities with fewer opportunities.”