The Priest Himalaya

Arcos de Valdevez

The Priest Himalaya was born December 1868 in the Parish of “Santiago de Cendufe”, in the “Arcos de Valdevez” municipality. After primary school, he entered the Braga’ Seminary, in 1883, and was ordained in 1891.

At a very young age he showed curiosity for chemistry and physics experiments, but it was in 1899 that he registered its first patent: “A device designed to reach high temperatures by solar radiation”. In the following years, he made the first experiments based on solar energy, and, in 1904, finally saw his work consecrated.

A curious crowd stands out staring, amazed by the gigantic structure… a huge parabolic mirror, built with thousands of tiny mirrors of pure crystal, concentrates the sun’s rays in a focus, where an oven made of refractory material receives the radiation and allowing it to reach the prodigious temperature of 3500 degrees centigrade… enough to melt iron, titanium, tungsten and even carbon!

This scene takes place in St Louis, Missouri, in the United States, at the World Exhibition of 1904 where the priest Himalaya received, the Grand Prize (the Gold Medal), for his remarkable invention, which allowed the use of solar energy to reach temperatures back then almost unimaginable.

Throughout his life, the priest Himalaya also invented a unique explosive bearing his name, dedicated himself to explore the potential of reinforced concrete, researched the possibility of creating artificial rain, defended the viability of turbo engines – for which, in fact, he came to register a patent.

After much travelling, he returned to Portugal in 1932 to die the following year, almost anonymous. But, he entered the annals of research, scoring one of the earliest step in the use of the currently called “renewable energy”.

Location: Arcos de Valdevez
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