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Artificial sun is expected to accelerate the search for clean fuels

Diplom-Fotodesigner, BFF Synlight experiment in Germany can reach temperatures of 3,000 degrees CelsiusDiplom-Fotodesigner, BFF

Consisting of 149 special xenon gas light bulbs capable of producing light 10,000 times brighter than the sun’s natural light that hits the Earth, the Synlight experiment began in late March 2017 at the facility in Jülich, a city near Cologne, at the German Space Center (DLR). Described as the world’s largest artificial sun, the instrument is able to concentrate its light on a point and reach temperatures of 3,000 degrees Celsius, roughly three times the temperature reached by steel blast furnaces. The main objective of the experiment, which cost €3.5 million to set up, is to speed up research in the area of sustainable fuels that do not emit greenhouse gases. The light produces hydrogen, a clean source of energy, directly from water. German researchers developed a method that produced this result a few years ago and hope to perfect it more quickly with the help of Synlight. Hydrogen is considered one of the possible fuels of the future because it produces only water and heat when burned. The inauguration of the set of light sources in Germany is one way to work around northern Europe’s unstable climate, where sufficient amounts of natural sunlight are not always available to be used in research that searches for new ways of producing hydrogen. If they are economically viable, hydrogen-based fuel cells could be used to generate electrical energy to power vehicles, for example.