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Tech & Science Bill Gates is backing a technology that concentrates sunlight to generate temperatures of 1,000 degrees. It looks like a mosaic of mirrors.

17:42  20 november  2019
17:42  20 november  2019 Source:   businessinsider.com.au

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Bill Gates is backing a technology that concentrates sunlight to generate temperatures of 1 , 000 degrees . At the western tip of the Mojave Desert sits a mosaic of mirrors . In a statement, Gates called the company's technology "a promising development in the quest to one day replace fossil fuel."

Heliogen uses mirrors to concentrate solar energy that can power heavy industry.

a sign on a sandy beach
  • A facility run by the energy company Heliogen uses mirrors to produce concentrated, high-heat solar power.
  • For the first time, Heliogen's facility created temperatures high enough to power industrial processes like cement or steel manufacturing.
  • The technology could eventually replace fossil fuels in those processes.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

At the western tip of the Mojave Desert sits a mosaic of mirrors.

They're part of a facility run by Heliogen, a solar-energy company that's developing a method to concentrate the power of sunlight.

The company's array of mirrors directs light toward a single point on a tower. Once the light hits, liquid in the tower heats up, and that thermal energy fuels a heat engine. Unlike a solar farm, which generates electricity for homes and businesses, this process is designed for manufacturing plants that produce cement, steel, or petrochemicals.

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Like a kid burning holes in their toys using a magnifying glass, solar furnaces essentially do the Like a kid burning holes in their toys using a magnifying glass The startup is also confident that eventually, its technology could use the sun to generate temperatures upwards of 1 ,500 degrees Celsius, at

Bill Gates is backing a new venture which aims to turn sunlight into a source of heat exceeding 1 , 000 C The company uses software to align a large array of mirrors to reflect sunlight to a target The technology can generate temperatures high enough to manufacture cement without creating

The process of producing those materials requires temperatures of at least 1,000 degrees Celsius, but other renewable-energy technologies are not capable of generating that kind of heat. This is the first time a company has achieved such high temperatures using concentrated solar power - other companies that have tried, but only achieved temperatures of up to 565 degrees Celsius.

Heliogen counts Bill Gates - now the world's richest person - as one of its initial investors. In a statement, Gates called the company's technology "a promising development in the quest to one day replace fossil fuel."

Heliogen thinks its process will be more affordable than other renewable-energy technologies

Heliogen's team, which includes scientists and engineers from Caltech and MIT, uses computer models to program the mirrors to reflect light at precise angles. That ensures all the solar beams reach the exact same point, resulting in extremely high temperatures.

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Bill Gates - backed startup uses AI mirrors to generate heat a QUARTER of the sun's temperature in breakthrough that could drastically lower CO2 emissions. Mirrors can focus the Sun's rays to create temperatures of 1 , 000 degrees F. The system could be used as a green way to make cement, glass

The Bill Gates - backed startup has successfully concentrated solar energy at "breakthrough" temperatures above 1 ,832F, making it toasty enough to replace The trick is the use of computer vision (aka a form of AI) to align a large array of mirrors as they reflect sunlight on a solitary target.

In the near term, Heliogen hopes to sell its technology to industrial companies. It believes the process could be cheaper than burning fossil fuels since it relies on a free resource: sunlight. Other renewable-energy technologies like wind turbines and hydropower (converting water into electricity) are cleaner than fossil fuels, but tend to be more expensive.

a group of people standing on top of a mountain

"If we go to a cement company and say we'll give you green heat, no CO2, but we'll also save you money, then it becomes a no-brainer," Heliogen's founder and CEO, Bill Gross, told CNN.

Bill Gates thinks the technology could replace fossil fuels

Despite Heliogen's initial success, Gates said, there's still "a lot of inventing to do" before the manufacturing industry could achieve zero carbon emissions.

That's because industrial processes are only responsible for about a fifth of global emissions. The rest comes from agriculture, transportation, buildings, electricity and heat production, and other processes like oil extraction and refining.

  Bill Gates is backing a technology that concentrates sunlight to generate temperatures of 1,000 degrees. It looks like a mosaic of mirrors.

But Heliogen hopes to develop new types of clean fuel as well.

It's working to improve its technology so that it can reach a temperature of 1,500 degrees Celsius. At that point, the company may be able to split hydrogen molecules from water to create a hydrogen-based fuel that's emission-free.

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