Energy & Power
The Museum's collections on energy and power illuminate the role of fire, steam, wind, water, electricity, and the atom in the nation's history. The artifacts include wood-burning stoves, water turbines, and windmills, as well as steam, gas, and diesel engines. Oil-exploration and coal-mining equipment form part of these collections, along with a computer that controlled a power plant and even bubble chambers—a tool of physicists to study protons, electrons, and other charged particles.
A special strength of the collections lies in objects related to the history of electrical power, including generators, batteries, cables, transformers, and early photovoltaic cells. A group of Thomas Edison's earliest light bulbs are a precious treasure. Hundreds of other objects represent the innumerable uses of electricity, from streetlights and railway signals to microwave ovens and satellite equipment.
Mauzey’s Patent Model of a Solar Heater – 1880
- This model was filed with the application to the U.S. Patent Office for Patent Number 227,028 issued to James P. Mauzey of Blackfoot, Montana Territory on April 27, 1880. His patent was for a new and improved solar heater. Mr. Mauzey’s design provided for a series of reflecting mirrors mounted on a rectangular frame which could be oriented so as to focus the sun’s rays upon an object to be heated. The image of the patent model shows the frame and mirrors. The frame would be oriented to point the central, oval shaped mirror directly at the sun. This mirror was shaped and oriented so as to focus the sun’s rays along a line at some distance behind the mirror frame assembly. Additional mirror elements were mounted within the frame as shown, and these too were designed to focus energy at the same distance behind the frame. The brown colored rod and material at the top of the frame modeled a curtain which could be rolled across the frame to block the mirrors as necessary for repair or adjustment. The frame assembly shown in the image was intended to be mounted on a supporting base which could be used to tilt the frame up or down to track the sun’s position in the sky. The base was in turn mounted on wheels or rollers to allow additional adjustments to track the sun. The object to be heated would be located on the base at the focal point of the mirrors. Additionally, the mirror assembly could be moved up or down relative to the base allowing for an accurate focus on the object to be heated. Diagrams showing the complete design of the heater can be found in the patent document online www.USPTO.gov/patents/process/search/index.jsp). Research of available trade literature and other sources has not revealed any commercial use that may have made use of Mr. Mauzey’s invention. His work was mentioned by Charles H. Pope, a solar heating advocate, in his 1903 book titled Solar Heat: Its Practical Applications. However, Mr. Pope indicated no additional information on Mauzey had been found.
- The patent model is constructed of tin, wood and fabric. It models the mirror assembly and curtain mechanism. Also shown are the side arms that would have attached the assembly to the supporting base.
- Currently not on view
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- Mauzey, James P.
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- National Museum of American History