German scientists have built Synlight, the world’s biggest artificial sun, that can generate 10,000 times more light radiation than the sun produces on the earth’s surface. The 149 xenon lamps in the array produces 350 kilowatts of energy focused on an 8-inch by 8-inch target area, producing temperatures up to 5,500 degrees Fahrenheit. The devices is aimed at creating carbon-free hydrogen and other fuels.
The objective of the three-story Synlight project at Jülich’s DRL Institute of Solar Research is to enlarge the scale of testing technology that will ultimately allow industrial-scale, solar powered hydrogen fuel manufacturing. The facility features three radiation chambers for experiments, allowing multiple tests to take place simultaneously.
"Fuels, propellants and combustibles acquired using solar power offer immense potential for long-term storage and the production of chemical raw materials, and the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. Synlight will enhance our research in this field,” said DLR Executive Board Member Karsten Lemmer.
Hydrogen fuel created from harnessing solar radiation could emerge as the power source of the future. Scientists from the DLR Institute of Solar Research already made hydrogen using solar radiation in the laboratory at the solar simulator in Köln, Germany. Similarly, researchers from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom have found a way to produce hydrogen more cheaply using biomass and the sun. They can keep hydrogen securely bonded in its gas form through a simple photocatalytic conversion process.
"Synlight fills a gap in the qualification of solar-thermal components and processes," explained Kai Wieghardt, a researcher who participated in the development and construction of the facility. “The scale of the new artificial sun is between laboratory systems like DLR’s high-performance lamps in Cologne and the large-scale technical facilities such as the solar tower here in Jülich.”Tweet