Tech & Auto

World’s largest ‘artificial sun’ shines brightly for the first time

Published on: 26/03/17 6:07 PM

Scientists in Germany now have 'sunlight' at the touch of a button having successfully turned on the world's biggest solar simulator for the first time.

The artificial light, which has been created from 149 powerful short-arc lamps, has just been tested out at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) near Cologne.

Researchers say the aim of the experiment is to improve the production processes for solar fuels, including hydrogen, which they believe will be an important renewable energy source in the future.

Synlight can produce light which is 10,000 times the intensity of the solar radiation at the Earth' surface, while temperatures at the target point of the lamps can reach up to 3000°C. Researchers developing the next generation of renewable energy technologies use these extreme temperatures to manufacture the fuels. It is not dependent on weather conditions, with researchers hoping the simulator will bring faster progress to solar fuel manufacturing.

Johannes Remmel, a German environment minister, said the expansion of existing energy technology was essential in achieving renewable energy targets. “The energy transition will falter without investments in innovative research, in state-of-the-art technologies and in global lighthouse projects like Synlight,” he said. Hydrogen is considered to be the fuel of the future because it burns without producing carbon dioxide, researchers say.

“Renewable energies will be the mainstay of global power supply in the future,” Karsten Lemmer, a DLR Board member, added.

“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.”

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