An anonymous reader quotes a report from InterestingEngineering: As global carbon emissions that stem from fossil fuels keep adding to our ever-growing climate change issue, energy companies have turned their focus on renewables to generate fuel. One of those companies is Synhelion from Switzerland. The company harnesses the energy of the heat of the sun and converts the collected carbon dioxide into synthetic fuels, in turn offering a green and sustainable solution. The system is quite genius. Synhelion uses a mirror field filled with heliostats to reflect the radiation of solar power. The radiation is then concentrated in the solar receiver and turned into clean, high-temperature process heat at around 2.732F (1.500C). Next, the produced heat is turned into a CO2 and H2O mixture in a thermochemical reactor. The end product, the syngas, is then turned into gasoline, diesel, or jet fuel with a gas-to-liquid technology process. What makes this sustainable is the fact that the company's thermal energy storage (TES) saves the excess heat after each process which keeps the operation going 24/7.
And how does the solar receiver work? The company says the technology is inspired by nature. To reach ultra-high temperatures, the solar receiver mimics Earth's greenhouse gas effect. The chamber is filled with greenhouse gases that are usually water vapor or water and CO2 mixtures. After solar radiation collected with heliostats enters the chamber, the black surface of the chamber absorbs the heat, thermalizes, and re-radiates it. The greenhouse gas then absorbs the thermal radiation, acting as a heat transfer fluid (HTF), which can, later on, be turned into any type of liquid fuel. And liquid fuels are easy to transport which makes them low-cost compared to their solid counterparts. When there's no sun, the HTF flows through the TES in the opposite direction to recover the previously stored thermal energy. The hot HTF from the storage drives the thermochemical processes in the reactor that keeps the operation working. "The company states that through this technology, it can provide fuels at a cheaper price with a 50 to 100 percent lower carbon footprint compared to fossil fuels," the report adds. "In addition to Synhelion's aligned motives with the Paris Agreement's CO2 reduction targets, it is supported by larger industries looking to cut their emissions -- and eventually achieve net-zero -- by 2030."
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