In the pursuit of efficient and renewable energy, scientists from Germany have switched on what’s being called as ‘the world’s largest artificial sun’ on Thursday. Scientists hope that the intense light sources can be used to produce climate-friendly fuel.
The experiment, ‘Synlight’- that was carried out in Julich, a town located about 30 kilometres west of Cologne- is the largest collection of film projector spotlights ever assembled in one room, and it was designed by scientists from the German Aerospace Centre.
The device which towers at 14 metres (45 feet) high and 16 metres (52 feet) across, consists of 149 industrial-grade film projector spotlights and each one produces light equivalent to about 4000 times the wattage of the average light bulb.
When switched on, this artificial sun has an extraordinary potential to generate light about 10000 times the intensity of natural sunlight on Earth.
Another striking feature of the instrument is that, when all the lamps are swivelled to concentrate light on one single spot, the instrument can produce temperatures of about 3500 degree Celsius (6332 degrees F), which is around three times more than the heat generated by a blast furnace.
"If you went in the room when it was switched on, you’d burn directly."
However, the experiment is not without its risk. “If you went in the room when it was switched on, you’d burn directly,” said Professor Bernard Hoffschmidt who is a research director at the German Aerospace Centre, as per reports by The Guardian. In order to refrain that from happening, the experiment took place inside a protective radiation chamber.
Moreover, the artificial sun consumes a vast amount of energy. When powered up, a four-hour operation consumes as much electricity as a four-person household would use in a year, so it is expensive.
The objective of the experiment is to come up with the optimal setup for concentrating natural sunlight to power a reaction to hydrogen fuel which could then be used as a fuel source for aeroplanes and cars.
Although the Synlight uses a large amount of energy, scientists hope that in the future natural sunlight could be used to produce hydrogen in a carbon-neutral way.
“We’d need billions of tonnes of hydrogen if we wanted to drive aeroplanes and cars on CO2-free fuel,” said Hoffschmidt, according to The Guardian. “Climate change is speeding up so we need to speed up innovation.”
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