Converting Solar Energy to Useful Fuel

  • Linda Baine McGown
  • John O’M. Bockris


The conversion of light radiation to heat energy is a matter of common expeience—things placed in the sun get warm. However, different materials absorb different amounts of heat. For example, something which is dark gets warmer than something which is light in color. The reason is simple. Black objects absorb light, so that no light is reflected from black surfaces to our eyes. The light, once absorbed, is converted to energy of motion, causing the atoms and molecules in the object to move faster. This increased movement causes friction within the object, and is observed by us as a rise in the temperature of the object. In other words, the energy of the light is converted to heat energy, and the substance gets hotter (see Figure 10.1).


Solar Collector Cadmium Sulfide Black Object Photovoltaic Material Energy Collector 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Linda Baine McGown
    • 1
  • John O’M. Bockris
    • 2
  1. 1.California State UniversityLong BeachUSA
  2. 2.Texas A & MCollege StationUSA

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