The Virtual Institute SolarSynGas pursues the long-term goal to produce CO2-neutral renewable fuels efficiently via a thermo-chemical route.
In different working groups solar researchers and material researchers develop fundamentals and technologies for the production of renewable fuels.
Behind SolarSynGas are the DLR Institutes of Solar Research and Materials Research and the three universities KIT Karlsruhe, TU Clausthal and ETH Zurich. In 2012 they set up the Virtual Institute to bundle their expertise in the field of solar fuel generation and to create synergies.
One focus of the work is the development of metal oxide based redox materials for the thermochemical production of hydrogen and further carbonaceous fuels from water and CO2.
In the complementary teams scientists develop a basic understanding of the systematic relationships between the microstructure, the reactivity and durability of the materials. Based on the findings of the material development, heated solar reactors are developed and tested, which couple the solar energy into the chemical process.
A special feature of the process is that only water, CO2 and solar energy are used as resources. The products of the process are hydrogen, which can directly be used as energy carrier, e.g. in a fuel cell, and synthesis gas, a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide, which can be further processed to fuels such as methanol, gasoline and kerosene.
The consortium of solar research and materials research from DLR and the three universities KIT, Clausthal University of Technology and ETH Zurich has excellent multi-disciplinary knowledge in material synthesis , the characterization and optimization of redox systems, the experimental analysis of atomic transport processes in solids as well as the coupling of concentrated solar radiation into chemical processes using innovative reactor concepts.