CO2-neutral fuels are an important next step on the way to a climate-friendly energy supply. Since the sun is the oringinating source for all fuels, it make sense to use the power of the sun to manufacture synthetic or solar fuels.
Energy think ahead
Researchers in Germany are working to develop innovative solar fuels that eventually will be able to compete or even be cheaper that liquid fossil fuels today.
“For a climate-friendly energy supply we need over the power sector also solutions for the transport and heating sectors,” says Prof. Karsten Lemmer, DLR Executive Board for Energy and Transport.
With our research on alternative drives, renewable fuels and sustainable storage facilities, we are designing new solutions for an efficient energy system.
In the medium term, we can also make the transport sector, which generates just under 20 percent of CO2 emissions in Germany, more sustainable Benefit from the close interlinking of energy and transport research at DLR and the associated high interdisciplinary competence.
The largest artificial sun in the world
In the Synlight research facility at the DLR site in Jülich, 149 spotlights with the light output of a large cinema projector are installed, making them the largest artificial sun in the world. Together, the radiators produce a light which corresponds to nearly 100,000 60 watt incandescent bulbs and can be condensed to 10,000 times the sunlight. With the artificial sun, researchers can experiment independently under weather conditions under reproducible conditions and thus advance the development of solar fuels and components of solar power plants. Also possible are aging tests with UV light or applications for extremely high temperatures. Engineers of the DLR Institute for Solar Research have designed the plant, which was inaugurated in March 2017, and assist co-operation partners in carrying out the experiments.
CO2 Neutral Fuels – Hydrogen from water and sunlight
Hydrogen is not a primary energy, the energy carrier has to be produced by means of other sources of energy. However, hydrogen, in relation to its mass, contains more energy than any other chemical fuel; its combustion produces only water and heat. Solar energy, in turn, is by far the most available energy resource on earth. In the HYDROSOL_PLANT project, researchers at the DLR Institute for Solar Research are working on the further development of a manufacturing process that produces hydrogen directly from water using sunlight. With a solarchemic reactor, the solar thermal energy is directly used to generate hydrogen via a redox reaction.In 2017 the researchers tested a 750 kilowatt reactor on the Plataforma Solar de Almería of the Spanish research center CIEMAT.
The reactor is a further development of a plant with which the researchers have already succeeded in producing thermochemical hydrogen production in 2006.
This innovation has been awarded the DESCARTES Prize of the European Commission.
Gordon's expertise in the area of industrial energy efficiency and alternative energy. He is an experienced electrical engineer with a Masters degree in Alternative Energy technology. He is the co-founder of several renewable energy media sites including Solar Thermal Magazine.