A concentrated solar power (CSP) company called Heliogen, backed by Bill Gates, has reached temperatures greater than 1,000°C, enabling heat-intensive manufacturers to transition to clean energy.
The startup claims this is the first time this has been achieved commercially and says the feat was accomplished at its commercial facility in Lancaster, California. Their innovation used advanced computer vision software to align a large array of mirrors to reflect sunlight onto a targeted area efficiently.
The company says previous commercial CSP systems have been designed to reach almost half that temperature – 565°C, which it notes is “insufficient for many industrial processes”, such as the production of chemicals, cement, and steel.
According to Heliogen, these processes require much higher temperatures, which in the past have the burning of fossil fuels and biomass.
The company has targeted temperatures of up to 1,500°C, where it would be able to conduct carbon dioxide-splitting and water-splitting to make 100% fossil-free fuels such as hydrogen or syngas.
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Bill Gates said: “Today, industrial processes like those used to make cement, steel, and other materials are responsible for more than a fifth of all emissions. These materials are everywhere in our lives but we don’t have any proven breakthroughs that will give us affordable, zero-carbon versions of them.
“If we’re going to get to zero carbon emissions overall, we have a lot of inventing to do. I’m pleased to have been an early backer of Bill Gross’s novel solar concentration technology. Its capacity to achieve the high temperatures required for these processes is a promising development in the quest to one day replace fossil fuel.”