Building on IDEALAB R&D, Bill Gates has invested in his second CSP-based start-up after Malta, with Heliogen.
Heliogen, the clean energy company that is transforming sunlight to create and replace fossil fuels, has announced that it has, for the first time on the market, concentrated solar power with temperatures above 1,000 degrees Celsius.
At that temperature, Heliogen can replace the use of fossil fuels in critical industrial processes, including the production of cement, steel, and petrochemicals, dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions from these activities. This unique scientific achievement was achieved at Heliogen’s commercial facility in Lancaster, California.
Heliogen’s mission is to create the world’s first technology that can commercially replace fossil fuels with ultra-high-temperature, carbon-free heat from the sun, and transform sunlight into fuels at scale, taking an important step toward solving the climate change.
Its technology represents a key technical advance for concentrated solar thermal energy. Previous commercial CSP systems have been designed to reach temperatures as low as 565ºC, which is useful for power generation, but insufficient for many industrial processes. Many of these processes require much higher temperatures, which have traditionally been achieved by burning fossil fuels.
The potential impact of Heliogen’s proprietary technology is enormous. With these temperatures above 1,000ºC, Heliogen will be able to substitute solar energy for the fuel that generates greenhouse gas emissions from industrial processes for the first time. For example, cement production – one of the industrial processes well adapted to Heliogen technology – alone accounts for more than 7% of global CO2 emissions.
Furthermore, the Heliogen technology roadmap foresees temperatures of up to 1,500ºC. At that temperature, Heliogen can split CO2 and water to produce 100% fossil-free fuels like hydrogen or syngas.
Heliogen is capable of reaching these revolutionary temperatures as a result of its technology that exclusively uses advanced computer vision software to hyper-precisely align a wide range of mirrors to reflect sunlight onto a single target. The founder and CEO of the company is Bill Gross, a longtime entrepreneur and founder of Idealab. Heliogen’s team includes scientists and engineers from Caltech, MIT, and other leading institutions, and is based in Pasadena, California.
” The world has a limited window to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, ” said Bill Gross, CEO and founder of Heliogen, and founder and president of Idealab. “We have made great strides in deploying clean energy in our electrical system. But electricity accounts for less than a quarter of global energy demand. Heliogen represents a technological leap forward by addressing the other 75% of energy demand: the use of fossil fuels for industrial processes and transportation. With low-cost, ultra-high temperature process heat, we have the opportunity to make significant contributions to solving the climate crisis. ”
Today, industrial processes such as those used to make cement, steel and other materials are responsible for more than a fifth of all emissions. These materials are everywhere in our lives, but we do not have any proven advance that gives us affordable versions without polluting emissions. If we are going to get to zero carbon emissions overall, we have a lot to invent. I am pleased to have been one of the first to support Bill Gross’s innovative concentrating solar technology. Its ability to reach the high temperatures required for these processes is a promising development in the quest to one day replace fossil fuels.
More information: heliogen.com/