Project Sunfire

A Massive Undertaking Of Hundreds Of California Youths Spanning Over A Decade!

SUNFIRE ("Energy for Remote Islands From the SUN") is an enormous, solar-thermal-electric machine built on a volunteer basis mostly by high-school and college students of the greater Los Angeles area. Initiated and guided by Freelance Inventor Howard Frank Broyles, it is a privately-financed undertaking of learning and adventure, as well as an intended gift to the people of Pitcairn Island in the South Pacific, the most remotely inhabited place in the world and a prime location for SUNFIRE to demonstrate its usefulness as a 5kW electric power station.

Photograph (A) shows the Project in 1981 in the "winter" position (tilted at maximum angle). The 20-ton machine has a height and width of 48 and 37 feet respectively, and a surface area of 720 square feet consisting of 240 individual, parabolically-curved (10' focal length) glass mirrors of very high optical quality. At the focal areas of the structure are two boilers which receive the concentrated sunlight and produce steam to drive an electric-generator assembly. The conversion from heat to electrical-mechanical energy is performed by a crash-valve steam engine homebuilt out of a Honda CL350 motorcycle.

During the many years of intense effort, the youngsters developed a wide variety of skills for steel rigging and structural design-including arcwelding, oxyacetylene cutting, forging, machining, and other fabrication activities such as crane operation, electrical wiring, swagelock plumbing, sandblasting, and parabolic mirror grinding. These dedicated young people were commended for "Outstanding Achievement" by the San Fernando Valley Engineering Council and awarded First Place in the SUN-day Exhibition at the Museum of Science and Industry. The members of the SUNFIRE team have repeatedly received coverage in newspapers and magazines, including the NY Times, for their inspired resourcefulness and valiant spirit.

The main construction phase was completed in 1983 and the project unbolted into several trailerable sections and moved (pending ultimate transportation to the Island) to a holding place in Banning, California.

The Next Phase

Despite the passage of many years, the monumental task of bearing SUNFIRE to the shores of Pitcairn remains a dream. Rising to a 3,000 foot elevation over its 2 square mile surface, the Island will present a challenge even after the several-thousand-mile journey is made across the Pacific Ocean. Since the storm-swept, rocky entrance to the Island's Bounty Bay does not permit a normal cargo landing, airlift by helicopter will be needed to bring the multi-ton pieces of the cherished Machine ashore. The SUNFIRE team looks forward to joining with friends from all corners of the earth to bring the vision to pass. In addition to the adoption of Adamstown, Pitcairn's capital, as a sister city, we are seeking a protected site for holding and refurbishment of the Project, and recruitment of a team which will ultimately transport it to (and assemble it on) the Island.

Solar Concentrators: The Next Generation!

As an outgrowth of SUNFIRE, and the culmination of many innovations in solar concentrators and point of focus engines, Solar Dynamo Systems, Inc. was formed (although presently inactive). Sufficient capital investment would enable us to make plans and material kits publicly available, and ultimately begin production of advanced solar thermal-electric prototypes.

SUNFIRE Brochure © 1986, Revised 1992, 1997.
Howard F. Broyles, Inventor. Sonia C. Balcer, Team Leader.
Mailing Address: 110 West Marshall San Gabriel, California 91776
Telephone (818)-572-9353 (evenings after 6pm)
Solar Dynamo Systems, Inc.

© 1997 Sonia Balcer
Webmaster: Sonia Balcer, (

[Sunfire Index]
[New York Times Article] [Photos: Early] [Photos: Mid] [Photos: Later] [Photos: Post]
[Essay: "A Larger View of Life"] [Essay: "Sun To Weld By"]
[The Weldor's Weld - a poem about welding, inspired by Sunfire]

[Sonia's Home Page] [Shuttle Photos] [Cosmic Photos] [Piano Playing by Chords]

Last Updated: Feb. 3, 1999. Created: Dec. 06, 1997.
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