A Fake Sun to Save the Real World

A huge so­lar sim­u­la­tor gen­er­ates 10,000 times the heat of the Sun. Sci­en­tists aim to split wa­ter into hy­dro­gen and oxy­gen in new ways.

Science Illustrated - - SCIENCE UPDATE -

Ger­man sci­en­tists have man­aged to build their own sun, “Syn­light”, at a re­search fa­cil­ity near Cologne. Hit­ting a switch, they can ac­ti­vate no less than 149 huge, 7 kW re­flec­tor lamps lo­cated in a three-storey build­ing. The Ger­man space agency DLR is re­spon­si­ble for the project, named “the world’s largest ar­ti­fi­cial sun”.

The huge lamps con­sume as much power in one day as a fam­ily of four peo­ple does in one year, but on the other hand, the fa­cil­ity could help pave the way for a fu­ture with­out the use of fos­sil fu­els.

Sci­en­tists are work­ing on split­ting wa­ter into hy­dro­gen and oxy­gen at ex­tremely high tem­per­a­tures un­der the lamps, aim­ing to de­velop meth­ods for mass-pro­duc­ing the air­craft su­per fuel of the fu­ture: hy­dro­gen.

Through­out the world, sci­en­tists are ex­per­i­ment­ing with pro­duc­ing hy­dro­gen from sun­light and wa­ter, but at this point, no­body has ever suc­ceeded in pro­duc­ing in­dus­trial scale hy­dro­gen in an eco-friendly, ef­fi­cient, and in­ex­pen­sive fash­ion.

The lamps of the ar­ti­fi­cial sun are mounted on a 15-m-high steel frame.

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