Wednesday, January 25, 2017

fresnel lens 3

Video from about Fresnel lenses. He discusses the question of which side of the lens should face the sun.

From about 2:20 to 4:50, he measures the focal length of his lens in both orientations. His is the same 32 inches both ways. He then does a heat gain test with both orientations (to 6:10) and finds that with the grooved side facing the sun, he gets significantly more heat. His test is to heat 150 ml of water by 20F degrees at the focal point and measure the time in minutes. Shorter time indicates better heating.

Grooves facing sun: 1:55 (one minute, 55 seconds)
Flat side facing sun: 4:40

He provides an explanation of why this effect occurs - spherical aberration. He goes on to explain the difference between a linear and a spot lens from 8:00.

A very interesting site is Have a look around at some of the other impressive work shown there.

I found this interesting at NTKJ Co., Ltd. (Nihon Tokushu Kogaku Jushi) Fresnel lens supplier: an illustration showing the orientation of their Fresnel lens for solar concentrator with the statement: "Our standard fresnel lenses can also be used for the same purposes but with the opposite facing design. Namely its plano side faces focus and the fresnel surface faces parallel light source."

Perhaps this applies only to NTKJ lenses?

Their website is a useful catalog of different types of commercially available Fresnel lenses. I don't know if this company manufactured either of my Fresnel lenses.

The Green Power Science store is a source of Fresnel lenses of different sizes and types.

A video description of my temporary optical test bench used for measuring focal length of Fresnel lenses.

I was able to show myself that both of the lenses I have (your mileage may vary) focus much more precisely if the parallel light enters the lens on the Fresnel side but this not always have to be the case hence you might consider testing your lenses in a similar manner?

Finally, I notice that many who work with Fresnel lenses tend to use stands similar to those in the picture.

It is easy to understand why this is the most common approach. You need a rigid frame around the lens to keep it straight and what better way to add a pivot than at the center point of the frame?

I would imagine that the movement of the sun over time and the wind would make the this type of stand problematic.

This is a sketch of my stand concept. Imagine two cylinders, one inside the other. The Fresnel lens would be in a frame but the frame would have arms which are pivoted at each side of the work surface on the outer cylinder. Each arm would carry an adjustable counterbalance. The length of the arms would be so that the focal point would always land on the work table (the top of the inner cylinder) with the lens pivoting around it in two axes (#1 and #4). These axes could potentially be motorized with tracking added later.

The other degrees of freedom are #2 which allows the work table to rotate so different sides of the work could face the sun and #3 allows the work table to be raised and lowered, moving the work vertically in the focus.

Sorry if that is not more clear but it is only a concept that I hope to refine as I build something.

For now, I need the benches free so I must finish with these focal length measurements.

Thank you for your interest.

George Plhak
Lion's Head, Ontario, Canada


George Plhak said...
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George Plhak said...

Fixed the link
Demo of nice tight focus from one of my Fresnel sheets at two wavelengths (laser colors). I am shining into the Fresnel patterned side rather than the smooth side.