Weizmann Insttute of Science
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.