Building an Artificial Sun
German scientists have constructed a powerful new light system that can focus energy equivalent to the radiation of 10,000 suns onto a single spot. Each of its 149 Xenon short-arc lamps has the output of a large cinema projector. Eventually, they hope, this “artificial sun” could be used to produce environmentally-friendly fuels.
The light system is called Synlight, and it’s located in Juelich, about nine miles west of Cologne, Germany and developed by German Aerospace Center (DLR) scientists. DLR Director Bernhard Hoffschmidt says the system is capable of creating temperatures as high as 5,432 degrees Fahrenheit (3,000 degrees Celsius). The entire structure measures an impressive 45 feet (14 meters) high and 52 feet (16 meters) wide.
Two of the three test chambers have been specially designed to meet the requirements that come with solar-chemical process development testing and offer direct access to gas scrubbers and neutralizers – a prerequisite for testing processes for the production of solar fuels. Shutters – four meters in width and height – and the room heights of five meters offer the possibility to irradiate large elements, such as spaceflight components. A fundamental feature of Synlight is its multi-focus capability, which enables the available amount of artificial solar irradiation to be used for either one large application or split among a number of small ones.
Still in the testing phase, researchers expect “several years” of development, but eventually believe the system could be ramped up to ten times its current size, making it suitable for industrial-scale tasks.
sources: DLR, gizmodo