Solar Research Facilities Unit
Haim Garty, Vice President The Hella and Derrick Kleeman Professorial Chair of Biochemistry
Michael Epstein, Head
The Solar Research Facilities of the Weizmann Institute of Science (WIS) are among the most advanced laboratories in the world for concentrated solar energy research. A major feature of the Unit is a Solar Power Tower containing a field of 64 large, multi-faceted mirrors (heliostats), each measuring 7x8 meters. A picture of the Solar Tower is shown in Figure 1. Each heliostat tracks the movement of the sun independently and reflects its light onto a selected target on a 54-meter high tower containing five separate experimental stations, each of which can house several experiments. Light can be reflected toward any or all of these stations, allowing a number of experiments to be carried out simultaneously. This is the only Solar Tower facility in the world located on a campus of a research or academic institute and is solely dedicated to scientific work. WIS invested over $15M in the construction and maintenance of this laboratory.
Recently a new optical feature was added in the form of a 75 m2 reflector attached to the tower at about 45 m above ground level. Using this reflector about one megawatt of concentrated sunlight can be beamed down onto a ground target. This is a unique feature existing only at the Weizmann Institute Solar Tower. WIS is presently upgrading the heliostat mirrors to improve their optical performance. The cost of this renovation project to the Institute is about $1M.
Research Projects Conducted at the Solar Research Facilities Unit
Our goal is to explore solar-driven thermal and chemical processes, enabling power production, fuel alternatives, long-term storage and convenient transportation options. Work at WIS is diverse and evolves based on the scientists’ vision and imagination. At present, our research programs address the following topics:
- Electricity production – developing cost effective ways for environmentally clean, solar-driven electricity production. The scientists involved in this program are Jacob Karni and Michael Epstein.
- Hydrogen production – WIS scientists work on several methods to produce hydrogen (a clean and efficient fuel) using solar energy. These methods include: (i) hydrocarbon reforming, (ii) methane decomposition, and (iii) solar thermal-electrochemical dissociation of water at high temperatures. The scientists involved in these programs are Abraham Kogan, Michael Epstein, Alexander Berman and Jacob Karni.
- Biomass gasification – developing means to use solar energy to convert biomass (such as organic waste) to fuel. The scientists involved in this program are Roman Adinberg, Michael Epstein and Jacob Karni.
- Developing of high temperature stable catalyst for steam reforming of methane. The scientists involved are alexander Berman, Rakesh Kumar Karn, Michael Epstein and Jacob Karni.
- Solar reduction of metal oxides, for example, the production of zinc from zinc oxide, for developing a clean process to provide zinc for fuel cells and for the production of hydrogen. The scientists involved in this program are Michael Epstein, Irina Vishnevetsky, Tareq Abu-Hamed and Jacob Karni.
- Developing of heat storage in a phase change material (PCM) medium. Scientists involved are Roman Adinberg and Michael Epstein.
Haim Garty1, Ph.D., Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel
The Hella and Derrick Kleeman Professor of Biochemistry
Associate Staff Scientist
Roman Adinberg, Ph.D., Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russian Federation
Rami Ben-Zvi, M.Sc., Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel
Michael Epstein, B.A., Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel
Doron Lieberman, M.Sc., Ben-Gurion Univesity of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel
Rimon Arieli (left January 2010)1Vice President