The largest artificial sun in the world has been shining since March in the German city of Jülich. More precisely, it does at Synlight, a research building in which the German Aerospace Center (DLR) will attempt to produce hydrogen on a large scale for industrial application, which is why he designed this immense 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 as those used to project cinema films, with one difference: while a room is equipped with one of these short arc xenon lamps, the research building has 149 units.

The huge proportion of high performance lamps activated in these installations and their deployment of 350 kilowatts of light, not only simulate sunlight but, by focusing on a specific point, they manage to reach temperatures of up to 3000 degrees that give researchers the opportunity to experiment with the production of fuels such as hydrogen.

Considered the fuel of the future To be able to burn without producing carbon dioxide, to obtain hydrogen on a large scale is the central objective of this experiment and, with it, of this generator of light that the researchers call “the largest artificial sun in the world”.

Although the production of hydrogen by sunlight is somewhat outdated by science, what has not yet been possible is to do so on a large scale and in a viable manner for incorporation into industry. . For the moment, the previous attempts have not succeeded because, in order to extract the hydrogen from the water vapor, it is now necessary to consume so much energy that the process is neither viable nor sustainable.

With the Synlight building, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) created the necessary test environment to experiment in facilities that have three radiation chambers from which it is possible to focus all the light on any point in space, if necessary for any investigation.

“The propellants and fuels obtained from solar energy offer immense potential for long-term storage, production of chemical raw materials and reduction of carbon dioxide emissions”, explains one of the DLR managers, Karsten Lemmer, who ensures that “Synlight will strengthen research in this area“.

To evolve towards the production 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. both increase the temperature and achieve the production of hydrogen which, if all goes well, could be constant and thus meet an outstanding challenge for science.

More information and pictures: DLR.