Largest solar furnace
Megawatt Solar Furnace / Odeillo Solar Furnace
1,830 degree(s) Celsius
France (Font-Romeu-Odeillo-Via)

The largest solar furnace is the Megawatt Solar Furnace (MWSF), located near the town of Odeillo in the Pyrénées-Orientales department of France. The facility, which was completed in 1968, has an eight-storey-high parabolic reflector with a total area of 1,830 m^2 (19,697 sq ft). Light is directed onto this reflector from an array of 63 heliostats (steerable mirrors) scattered over the nearby fields. The reflector then focuses the light to a small point in the adjacent laboratory building. Here around 1 megawatt of solar energy is concentrated into an area around 80 centimetres (31 inches) in diameter.

Each of the heliostats measures 6.5 metres by 7 metres (21 ft 3 in by 22 ft 11 in) giving a total area of 2,835m^2 (30,515 sq ft). The point at which the light is focussed can be heated to temperatures of more than 3,000°C (5,432°C). The facility is useful to researchers because it allows things to be heated to extreme temperatures without creating any of the contaminants that are created by conventional fuel-burning furnaces.