11 eye-catching solar tech projects

From the world's largest solar furnace to a still that turns salt water into drinking water, the range of devices that harness the sun's energy is breathtaking. Here are some of our favorites.
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Image courtesy matthewthecoolguy/Flickr (cc-by-2.0)

Making hay while the sun shines

With more energy from the sun reaching Earth in an hour than we humans use in a year, it's no wonder that people have come up with myriad ways to use that power -- including a recent project announced by Google X for using solar-powered balloons to bring Internet access around the world.

Here are 11 other solar projects that are either in use today or in development. Some have humanitarian aims, such as a solar-powered toilet and waste treatment system meant for areas of the world that lack adequate sanitary facilities. Others, like a racecar powered by 2,000 solar cells, are just plain cool. All will make you sit up and take notice.

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