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Hoyt Hottel

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Hoyt HottelProf. Hoyt Clarke Hottel was in charge of the Godfrey L. Cabot solar energy R&D program at MIT from the late 1930s to the mid 1960s. The Cabot program at MIT involved research on non-biological uses of solar energy by humanity. A parallel program at Harvard involved the use of plants.

Although solar heat collectors of a number of types had already been used in test centers for several centuries, Prof. Hottel and his co-workers were the first to develop accurate analytical models for solar heat collectors. The modeling and testing work on flat plate collectors led to what is currently known as the Hottel-Whillier model of the flat plate collector. The original work, by Prof. Hottel and Dr. Byron Woertz, was so careful and precise that in the early 1940s it led to a calibration adjustment in the Eppley pyrheliometer of that day, since the difference between collector predictions and the measured performance was traced to a faulty calibration for these Eppley instruments. Prof. Hottel also developed the “utilizability” method for solar energy calculations, invaluable for long-term system predictions before computer programs like TRNSYS were available. On the MIT Cabot program work was also done on house heating and cooling, selective surfaces, thermoelectrics, solar stills, phase change heat storage, and non-biological photochemistry. Three experimental solar houses were built and tested extensively. Another project of the Cabot team involved the development of the lightweight solar stills to provide drinking water to the crew members of US planes shot down over the ocean in World War II.

The Hoyt Clarke Hottel Award is made each year by the ASES Awards Committee. The primary requirement is that the recipient has made a significant contribution to the technology in any area of the energy field.

—Courtesy of American Solar Energy Society

Recommended Reading

The Passive Solar Energy Book by Edward Mazria (1979).