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Editorial Note, p. 9
Introduction: Advances in the Research of the History of Solar Energy Technologies, p. 11-16
Antoni Roca-Rosell and Nelson Arellano-Escudero
Maria Telkes, Giorgio Nebbia and Promotion of an International Network of Solar Studies (ca. 1955), p. 17-52
In 1953, Giorgio Nebbia (1926–2019) wrote to Maria Telkes (1900–1995), asking her for information about the solar distillation of water. After this, an interchange of papers and letters was generated, including those discussing the preparation of the first international congress on solar energy, which took place in 1955.
The archives of Luigi Michelleti Foundation in Brescia, Italy, holds correspondence between Nebbia and Telkes which demonstrate that, in the 1950s, solar energy was again considered as an alternative source of energy, after several decades of being forgotten. The 1955 congress represented an attempt to launch this kind of energy resource, although it seemed that interest would be centred on nuclear energy and fossil fuel energy. Nevertheless, a relevant network of solar energy researchers around the world developed highly interesting work. In this paper, we aim to discuss an example of the origin of the International Network of Solar Research through the Nebbia-Telkes correspondence, the development of expertise, and circulation of knowledge in the middle of the twentieth century.
The First Steps in the Development of Solar Energy in West Africa (1960–1973), p. 53-71
West African countries gaining independence in the early 1960s gave these new African states the opportunity to integrate solar energy into their development policies. A favourable international context, dominated by United Nations conferences on solar energy, development, and African scientific research in 1961, 1963, and 1964, also contributed to the opportunity.
More specifically, the attraction of solar energy in these countries can be first observed in Senegal in 1960 with the establishment of the Institute of Meteorological Physics in Dakar and the introduction of solar pumps, among these, the first thermodynamic solar pump in the world in 1962. In Mali, the Solar Energy Laboratory was founded in 1964 by the political will of Modibo Keita, a body integrated within the country’s national science policy, which develops prototypes for solar water heaters, solar dryers, solar distillers, as well as solar ovens and stoves. The Niger Solar Energy Office was created in 1965 with the help and action of the United Nations, but the Office only gained momentum with the arrival of Abdou Moumouni Dioffo in 1969, and the experimentation of solar water heaters and solar distillers. Niger also carried out the first photovoltaic experiments in West Africa with the use of solar televisions. However, solar development does not seem to be limited to the Sahel alone and concerns also Ghana, Ivory Coast, and Guinea.
Elías Amaya Núñez
Solar Energy in Peru: The Energy Institute of the National University of Engineering (1962–1969), p. 72-89
This article explores one of the first institutional initiatives that promoted the study of solar energy in Peru: the Energy Institute, which remained in operation from 1962 to 1969. The institute was part of a state and academic effort to promote native industry and diversify the energy matrix, evaluating the potential of certain resources displaced over time by oil hegemony. The inclusion of non-conventional energies, mainly solar energy, and the subsequent development of university research allowed a critical advancement in the energetic field. The article analyses the development of solar energy projects through scarcely explored sources like the National University of Engineering’s newspaper repositories, newsletters, theses, research papers, institutional reports, and interviews with engineering, which were part of the institute.
Felipe A. López
Solar Energy and Lithium: Genealogy of the Solar Ponds in the Salar de Atacama (1970s), p. 90-126
The Salar de Atacama is home to two of the main lithium mining companies, Albemarle and SQM. This salt flat, located in the north of Chile, has not only lithium but also potassium and other salts in high concentration levels that complement the production of these companies. Together, these companies exported more than 900 million US dollars worth of production in 2018. The process for the extraction of salts is based on the sun as a source of energy, using solar ponds technology. Apparently imported from the USA, the technology has an older history in northern Chile than is generally believed. In the light of Basalla’s ideas, the process of evolution of this technology is reviewed, following what Gille defined as technical lines. In implementation of this technology, the article will review how the processes of ‘continuity’, ‘novelty’, and ‘selection’ intertwine and overlap. For that purpose, the period between 1974 and 1980 will be revisited, the years in which the solar ponds technology was consolidated in lithium mining in Chile, and when Foote Mineral Company (US mining company) and Corfo (the Chilean State Corporation for the promotion of production) signed an agreement which led to the creation of the Sociedad Chilena del Litio, the predecessor of what is now known as Albemarle. The article will also review the different designs of solar ponds that existed, which, as will be seen, “did not compete” to be included in lithium mining, showing the non-linear trajectory of this technology and how factors other than technical ones influence and determine this selection.
US Army and NDRC World War II Rivalry: On the New High Velocity Armour Piercing (HVAP) Projectile, p. 127-144
Existing frameworks within large organisations may become discontent when new, inner frameworks with similar technological purposes are established. At stake are responsibilities, funding, pride, and leadership. Such discontent prevailed in the US Army Ordnance Department in 1940, when a new government-civilian-scientific agency of munitions was established for assisting military development, the National Defense Research Committee (NDRC). The Ordnance Department, traditionally the Army’s leading developer, was now obliged to collaborate with the NDRC. It insisted that the NDRC provide only needed theoretical support, yet soon believed that the NDRC was performing practical designing, such as on the new HVAP (high velocity armour piercing) projectile, during 1942–1944. The HVAP was needed to penetrate the heavily protected German tanks, and the politics around it will be discussed.
Wasted Time: Reflections on the Repairability of Clocks and Watches from a Historical Perspective, p. 145-166
Given their everyday use, watches may appear to be a negligible phenomenon when it comes to issues of industrial society, environmental protection, or the sustainability of consumption. However, a close look at the history of their production, trade, and not least their use, can provide an insight into the multi-layered social and cultural dependencies of technical change and scientific progress, and their societal implications. A fundamental crisis in the clock and watch industry, starting in the 1970s in industrial countries, was caused by the replacement of metal by plastic as the main processed material, the growing importance of electronic clocks, and the internationalisation of value chains. Parallel to these developments, the dominant design of and the rationality fiction of consumers with regard to timepieces also changed—they became disposable products. However, the article will show that the phenomenon of disposable watches can be traced back to the late nineteenth century, and that the introduction of plastic did not necessarily lead to disposable watch designs.
Técnica e ingeniería en España. Vol. VIII, Del noventayochismo al desarrollismo ed. by Manuel Silva Suárez, p. 167-170