The solar concentrator of Augustin Mouchot

In the search of an inexhaustible energy source, Augustin Mouchot, professor of physics, built in 1866 a solar motor with a parabolic reflector and a cylindrical boiler that supplied a small steam engine. The invention triggered the enthusiasm of the scientific community, so much that it was presented to Napoleon.

In 1878, Augustin Mouchot received the first prize medal at the Paris Universal Exposition for his solar concentrator of 20m2. His goal was to find an alternative to coal energy as he foresaw the mines exhaustion. This invention and vision would inspire Emile Zola in his futuristic novel entitled “Travail” (“Work”) in which is described a post-coal society powered by solar energy.