The largest artificial sun in the world has been shining, since March, in the German city of Jülich. Specifically, it does so in Synlight, a research building in which the German Aerospace Center (DLR) will try to produce hydrogen on a large scale for industrial application, which is why it has designed this huge sun whose illumination exceeds 10,000 times the intensity of sunlight in any corner of the earth. To do this, this sun incorporates the same lamps that are used to project cinema films, with one difference: while one room is equipped with one of these short-arc xenon lamps, the research building has 149 units.
The enormous proportion of high-performance lamps activated in these facilities and their deployment of 350 kilowatts of light not only allow the simulation of sunlight but, when focusing on a specific point, temperatures of up to 3,000 degrees can be reached, which allow researchers to experiment on the production of fuels such as hydrogen.
Considered the fuel of the future as it can be burned without producing carbon dioxide, obtaining hydrogen on a large scale is the central objective of this experiment and, with it, of this light generator that the researchers refer to as’ the artificial sun biggest in the world’.
Although the production of hydrogen through sunlight is somewhat outmatched by science, what has not yet been possible is to do so on a large scale and in a viable way for incorporation into industry. So far, previous attempts have not been successful because, to extract hydrogen from water vapor, today it is necessary to consume energy so important that the process is neither viable nor sustainable.
With the Synlight building, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) has created the necessary test environment to experiment in a facility that has three radiation chambers from which it is possible to concentrate all the light on any point in space, if necessary. necessary for any investigation.
“The propellants and fuels obtained through solar energy offer immense potential for long-term storage, the production of chemical raw materials and the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions”, explains one of the leaders of the DLR, Karsten Lemmer, who assures that “Synlight will strengthen research in this field .”
To move towards the generation of hydrogen in a sustainable and viable way, this experimental building simulates a concentrating solar power plant and, through an area full of mirrors, redirects the sunlight to the point to be determined, concentrating all the lighting and lighting on it. increasing both the temperature and to achieve the production of hydrogen that, if all goes well, could be constant and thus respond to a pending challenge for science.
More information and images: DLR.