Scientists at the German Aerospace Center want to shine light on new ways to generate environmentally friendly fuels – by firing up the world’s largest “artificial sun.” It’s called Synlight, and it’s made of 149 gigantic spotlights that shoot out a combined light intensity 10,000 times greater than the sunlight we feel on Earth.
Synlight’s 149 spotlights are similar to those commonly used in cinema projectors. According to DLR, “These enable solar radiation powers of up to 380 kilowatts and two times up to 240 kilowatts in three separately usable irradiation chambers, in which a maximum flux density of more than eleven megawatts per square meter can be achieved.” They create a brilliant array, which scientists hope will help them figure out how to best use the huge quantity of energy from sunlight hitting Earth.
The experiment doesn’t come without a cost: Synlight sucks up as much electricity in just four hours as a family of four could use in an entire year, according to the Associated Press. It’s also housed in a specially built structure in Germany.
The focus for Synlight researchers will be on solar fuels, according to DLR, which said scientists will zero in on developing manufacturing processes. Scientists will delve into new ways to create hydrogen, which isn’t found naturally but must be created by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen, according to ABC News. The publication quoted the institute’s director Bernhard Hoffschmidt, who said the furnace-light conditions Synlight can produce – up to 5,432 degrees Fahrenheit – are crucial to experimenting with new methods of creating hydrogen.
DLR said industrial companies, such as those in air and space travel, will be able to use Synlight to test components with the help of DLR scientists.
Images via DLR