The Canadian Institute for the Energies and Applied Research
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 Tower containing a field of 64 large, multi-faceted mirrors (heliostats), each measuring 7×8 meters. 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 levels, 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. The Tower is operational since 1988.
In 1995 a unique optical feature, called “beam down” was added in the form of a 75 m2 reflector shaped as a hyperboloid section attached to the tower at about 45 m above ground level. Using this reflector, about one megawatt of concentrated sunlight can be reflected down onto a ground target. This feature exists only at the Weizmann Institute Solar Tower.
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 mission.
At present, our research programs address the following topics:
- Electricity production – developing cost effective ways for environmentally clean, solar-driven gas turbines for electricity production.
- 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.
- Biomass gasification – developing means to use solar energy to convert biomass (such as organic waste) to fuel.
- Developing of high temperature stable catalyst for steam reforming of methane.
- 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.
- Developing of heat storage in a phase change material (PCM) medium.