We love sunlight. A great amount of energy streams from the sky, we try to catch it and convert into something. However, we are to recognize that at the current moment it’s not that much cost-effective to use solar power. Our company doesn’t deal with solar plants mainly for the reason that we still don’t know, how to make it cost-effective and profitable for our customers. Meanwhile, german scientists at the Aerospace centre announced success of Contisol testing. The one is a solar reactor that takes advantage of concentrated solar power in order to run day and night.
Concentrated solar power involves the use of mirrors or lenses to redirect and concentrate a large area of sunlight, and by extension solar thermal energy, onto a small area. Rather than converting solar power directly into electricity, however, Contisol directs concentrated solar power into a reactor with multiple channels.
Meanwhile into reactor half of these channels are used to catalyze reaction of hydrogen production using solar power, while the other half use solar energy to heat air to temperatures greater than 1,000oC, the products of which are stored as thermal energy. During the night, when solar energy is no longer available, the stored energy from the heated channels is redirected to the other channels, where the production of hydrogen can continue.
Therefore Contisol builds two reactors together, one where sunlight is directly doing chemical processing. The other side for storing energy. This lets the plant to solve simultaneously two important issues. 1) The production doesn’t ceases, when the sun sets. 2) nuclear reaction operates effectively in stable and safe environment.
Although it’s clear that such experiments are still only scientists deal and they are far from commercial use and significant figures of several MW power production, it’s such a pleasure to realize that we are getting closer to conquesting one of the most clean and reliable energy sources.