The Heliogen system
Heliogen has announced that it has reached a milestone in California with its solar power plant, which has managed to heat the target to over 1000 ℃. This opens the way for the use of such systems in heavy industry as an alternative source of heat for various processes. The project is sponsored by Bill Gates (who is also the executive director of Heliogen) and is aimed at reducing the use of fossil fuels in production.
The technology used by Heliogen is patented and classified. It is known that it is based on the long-established principle of concentration of reflected sunlight at one point. The company’s developers have used computer vision technology to point the mirrors to ensure the highest accuracy in the concentration of the rays, which has resulted in ultra-high temperatures.
The 1000 ℃ boundary is much higher than the one needed to produce electricity, but this is not the goal of Heliogen’s founders. They intend to reach the temperature of 1500 ℃ and apply the plant for melting metals, splitting gases, evaporation of various substances and other processes of petrochemical industry, where strong heating is needed. For example, cement production generates 7 % of all CO2 emissions into the atmosphere – solar energy could be useful to solve this problem.
Billionaire and philanthropist Gates’ interest in the project is also due to the fact that such technologies can trigger a new technical revolution. Almost all modern developments in the field of “green” energy are aimed at generating electricity, while this segment accounts for only a quarter of global energy demand. The remaining 75% of demand is generated by industry and transport.