Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Solar snacks

Sun Chips. They are one of my favorites among the snacks isle at the local grocery store. Not only they are delicious and healthier than other chips, but every bag of Sun Chips (made by Frito Lays) is green. No I'm not talking about the color of the bag, but clean to the environment. They leave a 0% carbon foot print. They stay true to their name in every sense.

The people at Sun Chips take "going green" to every level of their management, starting at the corporate level down to the production line of every bag. It was someone's ingenious idea to power up a Sun Chips plant in Modesto, California using Concentrated Solar Power (CSP).
Built in 2008, the Sun Chips plant has been making greener and cleaner chips in every bag. This plant spreads over four acres of  land and produces enough power from the sun for almost all of the plant's operations. They constructed it with the support of National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL)

So just how much chips do they produce you ask? The solar energy that they collect makes it possible for them to produce 145,000 bags of snacks per day. According to Sun Chips the idea of using solar energy is natural as they produce Sun Chips branded snacks. Although solar energy is not used in any of their other factories, it is likely to be converted to solar in the near future. Moreover, producing snacks that is good for you should also be good for the Earth. (Source)

How do they do it? Well to find that out, lets look at how the CSP actually works. As i always say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so lets look at the illustration below. (Source)

Basically it has huge arrays of concave mirrors. These mirrors have a sun tracker which tracks the sun to make sure it gets the maximum amount of sunlight. The mirrors then focus all the sun's energy on a black tube that runs along the focal point of the array. This black tube is surrounded by a second glass tube that protects it from the air, allowing it to absorb solar energy more effectively. This super heated water passes through the black tube, the solar energy heats it up even more toan incredible 450 degrees F. This water then runs through a boiler system that uses its heat to generate steam,which helps to cook the wheat and heat the cooking oil used in the Sun Chips manufacturing process. Cooled water then flows back through the tube to the solar concentrator field to repeat the process. (Source)

Here is an actual picture of the Sun Chips power plant and their beautiful concave mirrors. (Source)

My Opinion: So as you can see, Sun Chips is committed to their product. Not only they are they healthier for you when you feel like snacking on something but also good for the earth. Its a goal of Frito Lays to convert the rest of their production plants into pure sun powered green facilities. Just thought I would share it with you, so that next time you walk down that snacks isle at your local grocery store, you will have a green spark of thought and do a little good to our Earth.

1 comment:

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