Holy Mouchot life

Augustin MOUCHOT (1825-1911)

As early as 1860, Augustin Mouchot, a French researcher and professor of math and physics, foresaw a depletion of coal reserves, which at the time were used to fuel the growing energy needs of the industrial revolution. He explored potential forms of alternative energies, especially solar energy.
In the course of his research, he developed a solar energy concentrator. In the early stages, his project was met with enthusiasm by his peers as well as public figures. In 1878, Mouchot presented his concentrator, powering a solar steam boiler, at the World Fair in Paris, where his invention was awarded a gold medal. Four years later on August 6, 1882, during a meeting of the French Youth Union, the engineer Abel Pifre (1852-1928) took inspiration from Mouchot’s idea, using the solar concentrator to power a Marinoni printing press. That day, it printed up to 500 copies an hour of a small newspaper duly entitled Soleil-Journal (Sun Journal). The questions in which the newspaper raised had a strange echo to the questions which are asked our contemporary world – “When will we run out of coal? How will we power the industrial revolution?”

Despite this success, French society’s fascination with solar energy quickly faded. Improving relations between France and Britain, which had a large number of coal deposits, the discovery of new deposits in the region of Lorraine and the increasing development of the railways all contributed to the sidelining of this promising research. But even if his research was no longer financed, Mouchot remains a pioneer in the use of concentrated solar energy.

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