Abbot Tests Solar Steam Boiler

Usage Conditions Apply
The Smithsonian Institution Archives welcomes personal and educational use of its collections unless otherwise noted. For commercial uses, please contact

Narrow Your Results


Filter Your Results

Smithsonian Secretaries Information

Close Browse records and papers of the Smithsonian Secretaries, from 1846 until today. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by individuals who have held that office.

Expeditions Information

Close Browse records and papers documenting scientific and collecting expeditions either affiliated with the Smithsonian, or with which Smithsonian researchers participated. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by geographic regions predominantly represented in expedition records.

Professional Societies Information

Close Browse records of professional societies closely associated with the Smithsonian, that focus on areas of scientific research and museum studies. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by major topics and disciplines.


  • On September 30, 1936, Smithsonian Secretary and astrophysicist Charles G. Abbot tested a solar radiation steam boiler of his design. The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) filmed the test and by operating an electric generator a short program was broadcast by solar power.
  • The solar radiation steam boiler exposed 36 square feet of mirror surface and it was intended to produce about 1/2 horsepower at the engine. The device had many defects and was too large to be practical for generating solar power. After the test a smaller solar flash boiler was prepared and offered greater promise.


  • Abbot, C. G (Charles Greeley) b. 1872
  • Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Several images from this event can be found in SIRIS.
  • Smithsonian Institution Annual Report 1937, pg. 101.

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,


September 30, 1936


  • Astrophysicists
  • Observatories
  • Secretariats
  • Astrophysics
  • Scientific apparatus and instruments
  • Secretaries
  • Public broadcasting
  • Inventions
  • Broadcasting
  • Physicists
  • Event

Full Record

View Full Record