ASME-Landmark:Solar Energy and Energy Conversion Laboratory


This highly diverse Solar Energy and Energy Conversion Laboratory (SEECL) was unique in developing practical solar energy devices based on established principles of thermodynamics, heat transfer, and fluid mechanics long before solar energy was considered a serious energy alternative. Among its many significant technological accomplishments are advanced solar collector designs, solar-assisted HVAC systems, space power systems, breakthroughs in solar-based housing, and development of advanced materials including glazings and highly selective surfaces. Both the U.S. Department of State and the United Nations have recognized this facility for its global accomplishments in training and innovation.

The SEECL was established in 1954 by Erich A. Farber, then professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Florida. Farber served as its director for 37 years and was inducted into the Solar Hall of Fame in 1976, which is now part of the Dr. Erich A. Farber Archives, located in the Old Solar House.

While it has been the transfer of technology into applications that is most recognized throughout the engineering and energy industries, research at SEECL has included ground-breaking work in heat transfer, properties of materials, solar distillation, crop drying and solar ovens, solar furnaces, solar electric generators, and solar Stirlling engines.

The Solar House is built of typical 1950s Florida construction and was continually retrofit through the decades to demonstrate the feasibility of emerging solar-based systems. From the first hot-water system to air-conditioning systems, energy for the house has been provided by the sun meeting as much as 96 percent of all its needs (including appliances). Experiments were also conducted on retrofitting an automobile to electric power. See ASME website for more information