Scientists from the German Aerospace Center (DLR) have successfully turned on the world’s largest artificial sun in Julich, Germany. Researchers hope that the experiment will help shed light on new ways of creating climate-friendly fuels, including hydrogen, which they believe will be an important renewable energy source in the future.
Officially known as “Synlight,” the artificial sun uses 149 industrial-grade film projector spotlights to simulate sunlight. When the Synlight is turned on, it can generate light that’s 10,000 times as intense as natural sunlight on earth and produce temperatures of up to 3000 degrees Celsius.
Hydrogen is considered by many to be the fuel of the future as it produces no carbon emissions when burned. But the problem is that hydrogen does not occur naturally on earth and one way of manufacturing it is by splitting water into its two components – the other being oxygen – using electricity in a process called electrolysis.
The Synlight experiment is still very expensive and energy-consuming, costing €3.5 million to build and requires as much electricity in four hours as a four-person household would use in a year. DLR hopes the Synlight project will help researchers to find a more efficient way to split water into hydrogen and oxygen using the Sun.