In Cape Town the Institute of Solar Research presented SynLight for the first time to the international CSP industry (CSP = concentrating solar power). “The new research facility SynLight will be the world’s largest artificial sun. It provides ideal testing opportunities to the manufacturers of components as well as to process developers for solar thermal power plants, to solar chemistry and aerospace.” said Bernhard Hoffschmidt, Director at the Institute of Solar Research.

SynLight allows solar radiation tests in parallel operation

High-flux solar simulators provide controllable optical radiation as required, regardless of the time of day and weather conditions, with a spectrum similar to solar radiation. Therefore, they are an indispensable tool for the development of CSP components (CSP = Concentrating Solar Power) or processes in solar chemistry. In the future cooperation partners and customers from industry and research will be able to test materials which absorb and store energy in the new facility.

Project manager Kai Wieghardt: “We regarded it as important to introduce the system to our future partners and customers at this early point in time, since testing of this magnitude is usually scheduled with a long lead time. In addition, we received here in interviews with conference participants suggestions for collaborations and other applications options. ”

 The Institute of Solar Research presented SynLight at the international CSP conference in Cape Town, South Africa
zum BildThe Institute of Solar Research presented SynLight at the international CSP conference in Cape Town, South Africa

The total output of SynLight will be as great as that of all currently worldwide operating high-flux solar simulators together. With its new offer the DLR closes a supply gap: the power output of SynLight will range between those of high-flux solar simulators on a laboratory scale and those of experimental solar towers, such as the Juelich solar tower.

SynLight can provide temperatures which are higher than those achievable in typical flame-heated processes – up to 3500 degrees Celsius, if all the reflectors are targeted to a single point.

 SynLight gains its radiant power from 149 xenon short-arc lamps
zum BildSynLight gains its radiant power from 149 xenon short-arc lamps

A total of 149 short-arc lamps are fitted with reflectors of about one meter in diameter mounted in a 15 meter high steel structure. The reflectors can be variably adjusted, so that the light is focused either to a single point or may impinge distributed over a larger area. Moreover, it is possible to divide the light into up to three subsets to be used in parallel in three test chambers arranged side by side.

Facility offers special equipment for customers from solar chemistry

Karl-Heinz Funken, Head of the Department Facilities in the Institute of Solar Research highlights: “The new hall was designed especially in the interior area for the needs of partners and customers from industry and research.  For instance, two of the chambers are equipped for the requirements of solar-chemical process development.” They will have direct access to gas washers and neutralizers – a prerequisite for the testing of processes for the production of solar fuels.

Cooperation partner of the DLR is the Technology Centre Juelich GmbH, building-owner of the construction, which is beeing erected within sight distance of the Juelich solar tower since July 2015.
After commissioning in a DLR pilot project, the largest artificial sun of the world will be ready for solar radiation testing from research and industry as of early 2017 in Juelich.
The research facility SynLight is funded by the Ministry for Climate Protection, Environment, Agriculture, Conservation and Consumer Affairs of the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia and by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy of Germany, following a resolution of the German Bundestag.

 Video: SynLight, the world's largest artificial sun - as of 2017 in Juelich
zum BildVideo: SynLight, the world’s largest artificial sun – as of 2017 in Juelich

Technical specification:

 • 149 xenon short-arc lamps, each with 7 kW of power, individually adjustable
• 1 x 280 kW and 2 x 220 kW solar radiant power, available in three test chambers
• 11 MW/m2 expected maximum flux density