Nelson Arellano-Escudero

Nelson Arellano-Escudero holds a PhD in Sustainability, Technology and Humanism from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia. He is an academic researcher at the Humanities Institute of the Universidad Academia de Humanismo Cristiano (Santiago de Chile) and responsible investigator for the Fondecyt Iniciación project nº11180158 (2018-2021) "Chile's solar frontiers: Desert, Antarctica, Polynesia and Space. A story of governance and social values of solar technologies in extreme zones (1976-2011)". His lines of research are in the fields of Sustainability, History of Technology and techno-environmental conflicts. He has published a book about social studies of people living on the street and several articles in specialized journals of History and Social Work. He is a member of several scientific societies in Europe and Chile and a member of the faculty of the doctorate in Transdisciplinary Latin American Studies (DETLA) at the Universidad Academia de Humanismo Cristiano, as well as a collaborating professor at the University Alberto Hurtado and the University of Valparaíso, Chile.




2015. La ingeniería y el descarte artefactual de la desalación solar de agua: las industrias de Las Salinas, Sierra Gorda y Oficina Domeyko (1872-1907). Barcelona: Universidad Politécnica de Cataluña.


Journal articles and book chapters

2022. "La Cosecha de Sales en Atacama con Energía Solar: el Suelo del Desierto que Fertilizó los Suelos del Mundo (1948-1990)". Historia Ambiental Latinoamericana y Caribeña (HALAC), Revista de la Solcha, v. 12, n. 2, p. 253-278.

2021. “Energía solar y litio: génesis de las relaciones técnicas del antropoceno con las salmueras de Atacama y Tarapacá (1973-1989)”. Diálogo Andino, v. 66, p. 135-145.

2021. "El sol en ilaia. Energía y zonas extremas: los asentamientos humanos en la Antártica (1970-2011)". Aldea Mundo, v. 51, n. 26, p. 59-72.

2020. ¿Qué Tecnología para qué Sociedad? Revista de la Academia (invited editor), v. 30, p. 4-10.

2019. “Éxitos y descartes de las sociedades de la energía solar en la  sociedad de los nitratos (1872-2012). Exploraciones en los archivos de la historia fragmentada”. In: C. Valenzuela (ed.). Tendencias y perspectivas de la cultura científica en Chile entre los siglos XIX y XXI. Santiago de Chile: RIL Editores, 2019.

2019. “Research notes about history of the Solar energy technologies (XIX-XX): Heritage, archives & memory”. Quaderns d’història de l’enginyeria, v. XVII, p. 175-186.

2019 (with B. Escobar). “Green Innovation from the Global South: Renewable Energy Patents in Chile, 1877–1910”. Business History Review, v. 93, n. 2, p. 379-395.

2018. “Compañía Salitrera Anglo Chilena: investigación y desarrollo de la energía solar industrial en 1940.” Estudios Atacameños, n. 57, p. 119-140.

2018. “Búsquedas paralelas del poder solar en la década de 1970: MIT, Universidad de Barcelona, CORFO y Batelle Institute”. Quaderns d’història de l’enginyeria, v. XVI, p. 261-276.

2013. “Salitre, Desierto y Energía: Investigación y desarrollo en la historia del uso industrial de la Energía Solar en el Cantón Central de Antofagasta (1872-1908?)”. In: S. González Miranda (ed.). La  sociedad del salitre: protagonistas, migraciones, cultura urbana y espacios públicos (1870 -1940). Santiago de Chile: Editorial RIL, 2013


Research project as CALAS fellow

Title: Intermittent sustainability: Solar energy and energy matrix in the Atacama Desert (19th c.). History of discarded solar radiation

Abstract: In the Atacama Desert, between 1872 and 1907, three solar desalination industries were built to make water drinkable. These cases present an event that allows us to trace the intersecting scales enunciated by Julia A. Thomas, to elaborate a technological history of the ecological economy in the Anthropocene era and to recognize some of the factors of the great acceleration in the world economy and the subsequent effects on the process of biosphere-noosphere-technology transformation.

The study of the Atacama Desert will allow us to analyze the anthropocenic turn, as proposed by Dürbeck and Hüpkes, as well as the problems of the evolution of knowledge and technology. Atacama is a unique case on a global scale because of the diversity it brings together in environmental terms (soils, water, solar radiation) and inventiveness, with the most diverse energy matrix for industry and mining in the 19th century.

The loose memories become the material with which it is hopefully possible to develop a Latin American perspective to understand the Anthropocene as a multiple crisis. A series of cases may contain a reading key if they are observed as a whole. Until now, they have been explored independently. The case studies come from solar destination plants in Las Salinas, Sierra Gorda and Oficina Domeyko as well as from Chilean invention patents, Aubrey Eneas' solar engine, Smithsonian Institution, Gibbs House and its interests in Meteorology, Astrophysics and Engineering.

The milestone of the use of solar radiation in Atacama allows us to review what Basalla calls the study of viable alternatives to technologies perpetuated by selection. Reviewing the contribution and discarding of solar energy in the 19th century, from a cultural point of view, integrating social, economic, technical and environmental processes could contribute to observe the trajectory and support the conjecture about the time to come, assuming that it will not be as creative as the myths about energy promise. Still, thanks to that as the recognition of the forces of history could favor the urgent transformation demanded by the foreseeable future.