Germany Unveils The World's Largest Artificial Sun

By on

CCSS NAS-1 Word Search
Synlight artificial sun unveiled in Germany (Photo Credit: DLR)

The Earth’s natural power plant — the sun — bathes the planet with more than enough green energy to fulfill all our power needs. However, while we have managed to harness some of it through solar panels, most of its potential remains untapped. Finding new ways to capture more of this unlimited sustainable energy has proven tricky given that the sun doesn’t work at night, often hides behind clouds, and in some areas of the world, disappears altogether for months at a time. Now, scientists and engineers at the German Space Center (DLR) in Jülich have built a more reliable and controllable substitute to enable researchers to discover new ways to capture the sun’s energy.

Called Synlight, the world’s largest artificial sun, which cost €3.5 million ($3.77 million USD), is a 45-feet high and 52-feet wide honeycomb-like structure made of 149 7-kW xenon lamps. When focused on a single area, the lamps can produce temperatures of up to 5,400°F and generate 320kw, or 10,000 times, the solar radiation experienced on Earth. The intense heat is enough to vaporize humans standing in its vicinity, which is why the three-story manmade “sun,” that works like a backward parabolic reflector, is housed inside a protective radiation chamber.

Cross Section of Synlight (Photo Credit: DLR)

Synlight, which was unveiled on March 23, will be used to help researchers find new ways to use the sun’s abundant energy to split water it into its two components — hydrogen and oxygen. Hydrogen is considered the fuel of the future because when it burns, it releases water — rather than carbon emissions — and doesn’t contribute to global warming. Scientists hope the gas can someday be used to power everything from airplanes to cars. Unfortunately, current methods of isolating the gas involve burning harmful fossil fuels or electrolysis, which needs significant amounts of electricity. Both techniques are expensive and unsustainable.

“We’d need billions of tons of hydrogen if we wanted to drive on C02-free fuel,” Bernard Hoffschmidt, a research director at the DLR, said. “Climate change is speeding up, so we need to speed up innovation.

Synlight is made with 149 7K-W lights

Operating the artificial sun is not cheap as it consumes the amount of electricity used by an average four-person household annually in just four hours. However, Hoffschmidt is hopeful that Synlight’s reliability will enable researchers to master hydrogen-making techniques which can be mimicked and scaled up using our sun. Experts believe that with support from scientists worldwide, we could live in a hydrogen-fueled world within the next decade. In the future, the German researchers also hope to use Synlight to test the durability of spacecraft material and equipment when subjected to intense solar radiation. This research will help astronomers tremendously in their quest to explore worlds far beyond ours!

Resources: phys.org,newatlas.com, futurism.com

Generate citations in MLA, APA & Chicago formats for this article.

VocabularyPlay Game

abundantcomponentsdurabilityelectrolysisfossilharnessinnovationisolatingmimickedparabolicquestradiationreliablesubjectedsubstitutesustainabletremendouslyunsustainablevaporizevicinityxenon
Name:
Date:

Reading Comprehension (11 questions)

  1. Why is it difficult for scientists to find new ways to harness the sun’s energy?
  2. What have the scientists and engineers at the German Space Center (DLR) built to help researchers overcome the problem?
Name:
Date:

Critical Thinking Challenge

Do you think the high cost of building and operating the artificial...

Name:
Date:

Vocabulary in Context

“Neither technique is sustainable nor affordable.”

In the above sentence, the word technique most likely means:

(a) method of projecting personal charm, appeal, etc.

...

212 Comments
to use your custom avatar.
  • KeenanThursday, November 2, 2017 at 5:14 am
    so 😎!!! melt=🙈 🙈=💲!!!
    • Hans landaFriday, October 6, 2017 at 1:06 pm
      whoa
      • RrFriday, September 22, 2017 at 8:35 am
        I lived in Germany
        • i love savannahWednesday, September 13, 2017 at 11:12 am
          this is boring but cool at the same time
          • Jake paulWednesday, September 13, 2017 at 9:17 am
            c0oL.
            • Jayden SmithMonday, September 11, 2017 at 10:14 am
              Good article
              • AceMonday, September 11, 2017 at 5:01 am
                I hope we will use hydrogen instead of fossil fuels in the future.
                • Jake PaulMonday, September 11, 2017 at 5:00 am
                  I love this artical
                  • Jake PaulMonday, September 11, 2017 at 5:00 am
                    its everyday bro
                    • Jake PaulMonday, September 11, 2017 at 5:00 am
                      Thats crazy cool!

                      Recent Comments

                      space_fox_x wrote:

                      they desurve a cookie
                      Video Of The Week — 76,017 Domin...

                      Nice wrote:

                      Cool I like spiders
                      Sea Spiders Use Their Guts, Not ...

                      SMARTY_LIVE_ONE wrote:

                      Hey hey I hope they fix it :(
                      Australian Scientists Hope The G...

                      Le magnific wrote:

                      This is so me I love Lego so my ...
                      LEGO's Massive "Home Of The Bric...

                      Our Apps and Plugins

                      ALA