From left to right: Jitu Brahmbatt, managing director of Richfield Engineering; Helen Hick (managing director of The Larkfleet Group of Companies) and Karl Hick (chief executive of The Larkfleet Group of Companies) at the contract signing in Nairobi.
The Larkfleet Group of Companies has signed a contract with Richfield Engineering of Kenya under which Richfield will manufacture Solar Steam plants for Africa, the Middle East, South East Asia and India.
Larkfleet’s patented Solar Steam technology produces heat from solar radiation using plastic Fresnel lenses. Fresnel lenses are more flexible in optical design and less expensive to manufacture than conventional mirrors.
Worldwide, the demand for heat in industry represents 76 per cent of the sector's total final energy consumption and 57 per cent of this energy is needed at low or medium temperatures. Solar Steam has been developed to meet this vast demand from industry.
A particular target is the provision of reliable thermal energy for steam, hot water and cooling used in processes for the agricultural sectors. The greatest increase in demand for food, energy and water is in the ‘sun belt’ regions of the world which have the largest populations. Many food growers and processors in these regions are hampered by the lack of a reliable grid connection to run refrigeration plant and must rely on expensive on-site generation using fossil fuels.
The Solar Steam system might also be used to desalinate sea water or purify polluted water to produce clean drinking water.
The Fresnel lenses of the Solar Steam system focus the sun's rays onto a metal tube filled with water or other fluid which is heated by the concentrated solar radiation. The frame carrying the lenses rotates to track the movement of the sun through the sky during the day using a fully automatic system.
Karl Hick, chief executive of The Larkfleet Group of Companies, said: “The potential market for Solar Steam is huge. Our deal with Richfield Engineering will allow us to tap into this by using Richfield’s substantial experience of high-quality engineering manufacture and its extensive international business network.”