More than 1,000 degrees: trapped in quartz, the Sun’s energy could help decarbonization

More than 1,000 degrees: trapped in quartz, the Sun’s energy could help decarbonization
More than 1,000 degrees: trapped in quartz, the Sun’s energy could help decarbonization

The world of solar energy no longer consists only of photovoltaic panels. Researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich (Switzerland) have opened another way of harnessing the power of the Sun on Earth. They managed to trap the heat of the star in synthetic quartz, says Science Daily.

This technique was the subject of a validation of concept through the publication of a study in the journal Device. It demonstrates the possibility of using the Sun’s energy no longer to create electricity, but directly to create heat. This method could be implemented in certain industries to help reduce their carbon emissions.

Doing without fossil fuels in metallurgy or the glass industry

“To fight global warming, we must decarbonize energy in general”insists the author of the study Emiliano Casati, specialist in the storage and conversion of solar energy. “People tend to think of electricity only as energy, but in fact almost half of the energy is used as heat.”

The rest under this advertisement


Nature takes its time…
like this ad!


Nature takes its time…
like this ad!

Working with glass, metals and even ceramics. Each of these activities is highly energy intensive. Above all, it requires reaching high temperature levels. However, the glass industry or metallurgy today constitute imperatives of modern civilization.

The most spectacular photos from NASA and SpaceX

Thus, in order to cross the 1,000 degree mark, essential in these sectors of activity, large quantities of fossil fuels are required. This is why researchers at ETH Zurich considered creating solar receivers. It is an assembly of thousands of mirrors which concentrate and accumulate the heat of the sun by following its movement.

The rest under this advertisement


Nature takes its time…
like this ad!

Exploiting the “thermal trap effect” to concentrate the Sun’s energy

But to improve the device, Emiliano Casati preferred quartz to mirror. Semi-transparent, quartz helps trap sunlight, using a process called the “thermal trap effect”. The object consists of a synthetic quartz rod attached to a silicon disk, serving as an energy absorber.

The study demonstrates that the absorption plate was able to reach a temperature of 1,050°C when the device concentrated the energy of 136 suns (by reflection). Which is much higher than the 170°C never reached by this process until now.

“Our research has shown that solar thermal trapping works not only at low temperatures, but also well above 1 000°C. This is a crucial point to demonstrate its potential in solar energy. This is an essential point to demonstrate its potential in real industrial applications.”explains the head of the study.

The rest under this advertisement


Nature takes its time…
like this ad!


Nature takes its time…
like this ad!

Increase the maximum heat obtained as well as its transfer rate

Above all, the researchers managed to calculate efficiency rates for energy transfer. Depending on the intensity of the concentration and the shielding of the device (here, 300 mm of quartz), it was possible to concentrate 500 suns to achieve a maximum heat of 1,200 °C, 70% transferable.

“Solar energy is readily available and the technology already exists”assures Emiliano Casati. “To truly motivate industry adoption, we need to demonstrate the economic viability and benefits of this technology at scale.”

Now, researchers are trying to optimize the thermal trapping effect. To achieve this, they explore other materials (notably fluids or gases) to increase the temperature obtained and the rate of transfer of this energy.

-

-

PREV Kim and Putin sign assistance agreement in case of “aggression”
NEXT An offer not to be missed !