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A solar oven for the production of steel and cement

US clean energy company Heliogen developed a commercial method to concentrate solar energy to exceed temperatures greater than 1,000 degrees Celsius, potentially replacing the use of fossil fuels in industrial processes like the production of cement and steel.

The production of construction materials like cement and steel generates a lot of CO2, mainly because they have to be produced at high temperatures in fossil fuel powered processes. By taking fossil fuels out of the equation and replacing it with solar energy, the greenhouse emissions in the production of these materials can be drastically reduced.

Previous commercial concentrating solar thermal systems were designed to reach temperatures of ‘only’ 565 degrees Celsius, which is useful for power generation, but insufficient for many industrial processes.

The new technology by Heliogen is able to concentrate solar energy to temperatures exceeding 1,000 degrees Celsius. The process relies on advanced computer vision software to hyper-accurately align a large array of mirrors to reflect sunlight to a single target.

In addition to the production of steel, cement and petrochemicals, the technology is also suitable for CO2-splitting and water-splitting to make 100 per cent fossil-free fuels such as hydrogen and syngas.

Photos: Heliogen

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