The high flux solar furnace at the DLR in Cologne-Porz concentrates sunlight for different research purposes while irradiances up to 5 MW/m2 and temperatures above
2500 °C are possible.
These procedures are aimed primarily at the chemical storage of solar energy and its application in chemical, technical and metallurgical high-temperature processes. Another area of interest is the testing under irradiation of various materials under extreme conditions such as high vacuum down to 10-6 mbar.
The sunlight is reflected onto a concentrator by a flat mirror (heliostat). The concentrator focuses the radiation in that way that the focus is outside the axis of the incident light, but inside of the laboratory building, where the experiments are installed. With help of an aperture (shutter) the incident concentrated radiation can be controlled. This arrangement is referred off-axis-geometry and it provides the advantage of a non-moving focus in relation to the current sun position and the test setup is not shadowed by the incident radiation.
The laboratory building of the solar furnace provides a test room to conduct the experiments, a control room to monitor and control the experiment operation and a workshop for preparing and reworking the experiments. In addition, different chemistry and material laboratories are available.
The experimental setups are installed on a special positioning table, to place them in the focus of the concentrated solar radiation. An extensive data acquisition makes it possible to control and analyze the experiments by visualizing and logging of several signals like temperatures, voltages, cooling water flows, etc. For contact-free measurement of high temperatures a pyrometer and an infrared camera are in use. Different power and radiation flux-density measurement systems were developed by the DLR and are used to determine the radiated power and its allocation on the target area.
The operator can also use especially manufactured components for the experiments, like tilted mirrors, beam guidance systems, various aperture shapes or different vacuum chambers for tests in space-related conditions.