Nowadays it is not uncommon to install solar panels on the roofs of buildings. Many see it as a smart investment – for the environment and for their own pocket. But heating your house with solar energy is nothing new.
Back in 1947, biophysicist Mária Telkes and architect Eleanor Raymond built the Dover Sun House, the first house to be heated solely by the Sun. Mária Telkes developed a chemical-based thermal storage system in which chemical salts absorbed heat from solar-heated air stored in large thermal reservoirs. Unfortunately, the heating system did not meet the ambitious expectations of its creators, but the technology laid the foundations for today’s solar panels.
Mária Telkes, also known as the ‘Sun Queen’, was a prolific inventor, registering 20 patents during her career. Her utopian vision of solar energy is still ground-breaking even today.
Born: December 12, 1900, Budapest, Hungary
Education: Studied Physical Chemistry at the University of Budapest
More: Invented a miniature desalination unit (solar still) for use on lifeboats, which used solar power and condensation to collect potable water. The still saved the lives of airmen and sailors who would have been without water when abandoned at sea