Maria Telkes, a Hungarian woman, saw the endless possibilities of solar energy more than a century ago, long before there was a need to replace fossil fuels. This earned her the nickname “Sun Queen.”
Telkes is best known today for coming up with the solar distiller and the first solar-powered home heating system. She was born in Budapest, Hungary, on December 12, 1900. She studied physical chemistry at the Eotvos Loránd University of Budapest. She got her B.A. in 1920, then in 1924, she got her Ph.D.
The Hungarian-American scientist and biophysicist’s 122nd birthday was on Monday, so Google used its doodle to honor him. As a teenager, Telkes, the oldest of Aladar and Mária Laban of Telkes’s eight children, fell in love with the power of the Sun. She was sure solar energy could be used instead of fossil fuels. Throughout her career, she worked on making solar inventions that were ahead of their time.
Telkes moved to the United States in 1924. She was first hired by the Cleveland Clinic Foundation to study how living things make energy. Later, in 1939, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) hired her to work on its Solar Energy Conversion Project, which was just getting started. She was one of the few women working in engineering at the time. In 1937, Telkes became a citizen of the United States.
#GoogleDoodle honors Hungarian-American scientist and biophysicist #MáriaTelkes on her 122nd Birth Anniversary. Know what is the real achievement of Human Life and how can it be achieved? https://t.co/lqOfqvueVC
— SA News Channel (@SatlokChannel) December 16, 2022
Maria Telkes Early Years
Maria Telkes was born in Budapest, Hungary, on December 12, 1900. She went to the Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest to study physical chemistry. In 1920, she got her degree with honors. She earned her Ph.D. in 1924 and moved to the United States to become a biophysicist. She worked as a member of the Solar Energy Committee at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
She Made Fresh Water Out of Salt Water
She invented a solar distiller during World War II that turned salt water into fresh water. During the Pacific War, soldiers used this new and essential tool.
The First Solar House
After the war, Dr. Telkes had to deal with some problems at work. The plan she made for solar-heated homes that people could live in didn’t work, so she has kicked off the Solar Energy Committee.
She wouldn’t give up, so she got private funding and, with the help of architect Eleanor Raymond, built the Dover Sun House in 1948. The house was a big hit, and the term “solar energy” became more well-known because of it.
Telkes had a long and very successful career. She came up with a lot of new ideas. During her life, she got 20 patents and worked as a consultant for many energy companies. She was asked to make a solar oven by the Ford Foundation. Her plan for a solar oven is still used today. She also did research at Princeton University, New York University, and the University of Delaware, among other top schools. She later won the Society of Women Engineers Achievement Award.
A Long List of Inventions
In Cleveland, she made her first invention, a photoelectric device that could record brain waves. During World War II, the US government hired Telkes as a civilian advisor to the Office of Scientific Research and Development because of her skills (OSRD).
She made a prototype of a machine that uses the sun to remove salt from water. It was one of her most famous inventions because it made it easier for soldiers to get clean water in challenging situations and helped solve the water crisis in the US Virgin Islands.
Telkes’ system for getting energy from the sun was very different from solar panels made today. But her solar heating systems, which included patents for a radiant energy heat transfer device in 1946, a heat storage unit in 1951, and a device to store and release heat in 1952, remained the most affordable ways to get solar energy for the next few decades.
Telkes moved to the metallurgy department in 1946, where she kept working on thermocouples. She quit the MIT solar fund because she and the other people involved had different ideas. Godfrey Lowell Cabot later asked her to come back. He told her she could keep working on the project on her own.
In the 1940s, she worked with architect Eleanor Raymond to build the Dover Sun House. It was built in 1948 and was the first modern house in the world to be heated by the sun. The term “solar energy” became better known because of how well the project went.
Telkes moved to the College of Engineering at New York University in 1953, where she continued to study solar energy. Telkes got a $45,000 grant from the Ford Foundation to make a solar-powered oven so that people worldwide who don’t have electricity can heat things.
Telkes started learning about solar cells at the University of Delaware’s Institute of Energy Conversion, which turns energy from the sun into other forms. In 1971, she helped build the first house that used solar energy for lighting and heating.
In 1981, she worked with the US Department of Energy to design and build the Carlisle House in Carlisle, Massachusetts. It was the first home that only used solar energy to power everything.
Telkes has won many awards for her work, including the first Society of Women Engineers Achievement Award in 1952 and the Charles Greeley Abbot Award from the American Solar Energy Society in 1977.
After living in the US for seven decades, Telkes returned to her home country of Hungary for the first time in 1995. She died during this visit, just ten days before her 95th birthday.
Stay connected with lakecountyfloridanews.com for more such Celebrity News.