Hydrogen from sunlight

The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), together with international project partners, presented what is currently the largest solar-chemical installation for the production of hydrogen. In the so called »Hydrosol-Plant« project, scientists and companies have jointly further developed the process of direct hydrogen production using solar radiation. By redeveloping both the materials used and the structure of the reactor, the facility can now provide a power of 750 kw. This is a significant improvement over the previous development stage of this facility, which had a power output of approximately 100 kw. The hydrogen is produced directly via a thermo-chemical redox reaction using the thermal energy of the sun. A set of mirrors focuses the sunlight onto a single point that is heated up to very high temperatures. With this heat, water can be split into hydrogen and oxygen. Hydrogen has the potential to increase the proportion of renewable energies used, particularly in the transport and heating sectors.
In the coming months, scientists will produce hydrogen in test operations and demonstrations at the Plataforma Solar de Almería (PSA) in southern Spain, and investigate the suitability of materials. This international project, coordinated by the Greek Aerosol and Particle Technology Laboratory (CERTH-CPERI-APTL), is a collaboration between DLR, the Spanish Centro de Investigaciones Energéticas Medioambientales y Tecnológicas (CIEMAT), the Dutch company HyGear and the Greek energy supply company Hellenic Petroleum. The project is funded by the European Technology Initiative on Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking, FCH 2 JU).

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