‘Artificial Sun’ may help find new ways of producing climate-friendly fuels

‘Artificial Sun’ may help find new ways of producing climate-friendly fuels

A team of scientists in Germany recently flipped the switch on what they describe as the “world’s largest artificial sun,” expressing hope that it would help shed light on new ways of producing climate-friendly fuels.

The device in question is a massive honeycomb-like setup of 149 spotlights - officially called “Synlight” - in Juelich, west of Cologne. The setup uses xenon short-arc lamps which are usually used in cinema halls to simulate natural sunlight.

By focusing the whole setup on a single 20x20-centimeter spot, the researchers from the German Aerospace Center (DLR) will be able to generate light equivalent of 10,000 times the amount of sunlight that would typically shine on the same surface.

Bernhard Hoffschmidt, of the Center’s Institute for Solar Research, explained, “The test aims to find new ways to create hydrogen to fuel vehicles such as cars and planes. We’re essentially bringing the sun to the Earth, by re-creating its radiation in a lab.”

The setup will create furnace-like conditions, with temperatures of up to 5,432 Fahrenheit, which would allow scientists to test novel ways of producing hydrogen.

Hydrogen is considered as a climate-friendly fuel as it doesn’t produce carbon emissions when burned. In other words, it doesn’t add to global warming. But it is rare on Earth.


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