Tuesday, November 19, 2019

"Company backed by Bill Gates claims solar breakthrough, looks to replace fossil fuels in industrial plants"

Always temper enthusiasm with knowlege of the difficulties in scaling up, especially when the word 'breakthrough' is used. That said, good on Gates for actually putting the money down on this and a half-dozen other approaches.

From Seattle's own GeekWire:
A solar energy tech company founded by serial entrepreneur and inventor Bill Gross — and backed by investors including Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates — says it has developed a way to create concentrated solar energy at temperatures hot enough to replace fossil fuels in industrial processes that contribute significantly to global carbon emissions.

It works by using cutting-edge computer vision technology to align a large array of mirrors to reflect sunlight to a precise target. The process creates immense heat, exceeding 1,000 degrees Celsius (1,832 Fahrenheit), that can replace traditional fuels such as coal, gas and oil in the production of materials such as cement, steel and petrochemicals.

The Los Angeles-based company, Heliogen, said on Tuesday morning that it achieved the high-temperature milestone at its commercial facility in Lancaster, Calif.
It described the innovation as a “major step towards solving climate change” that could dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions from industrial processes. Such processes are thought to account for one-fifth of the world’s carbon emissions.

Gates invested an undisclosed sum in the company as part of an earlier funding round, when it was known as Edisun. It’s one of many initiatives that Gates is pursuing in renewable and alternative forms of energy, from the $1 billion Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund to the pursuit of next-generation nuclear power through his company TerraPower.

“These materials are everywhere in our lives but we don’t have any proven breakthroughs that will give us affordable, zero-carbon versions of them,” Gates said in a Heliogen news release. “If we’re going to get to zero carbon emissions overall, we have a lot of inventing to do. I’m pleased to have been an early backer of Bill Gross’s novel solar concentration technology. Its capacity to achieve the high temperatures required for these processes is a promising development in the quest to one day replace fossil fuel.”

In addition, Heliogen said it believes its technology is on track to ultimately produce temperatures up to 1,500 degrees Celsius, hot enough to split carbon dioxide and water to make hydrogen and other fossil-free fuels....MUCH MORE