ETH researchers generate very high temperatures with new technology

Zurich – Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH) have developed a technology that uses sunlight to reach very high temperatures. With a so-called thermal trap, energy-intensive industrial processes could be climate-neutral in the future.

Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich(ETH) have developed a technology known as a thermal trap that absorbs sunlight and can therefore achieve very high temperatures. According to a press release, it has been possible to reach temperatures of over a thousand degrees Celsius using this method. These high temperatures are required for the production of cement, metals and various chemicals in energy-intensive industrial processes. The team led by Emiliano Casati, a scientist in the Energy and Process Systems Engineering Group, and Aldo Steinfeld, Professor of Renewable Energy Sources, developed this system, whose main component is a quartz rod. If this is irradiated with intense light, it is converted into heat with only minimal heat loss. Previous tests of this kind with thermal traps reached a temperature of 170 degrees Celsius. Solar power plants generally operate at temperatures of up to 600 degrees Celsius.

The researchers' aim is to one day be able to use the method for the decarbonization of energy-intensive industries. "To combat climate change, we need to decarbonize energy in general," Emiliano Casati is quoted as saying in the press release. "People often only think of electricity when it comes to energy, but we actually consume around half of our energy in the form of heat." The current experimental study was published in the specialist journal "Device". Further analyses, including on the economic viability of this technology, are being planned. ce/eb

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