DLR - Institute of Solar Research - Solar Energy for Chemical Processes

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Solar Chemical Engineering


Solar Energy for Chemical Processes
(25. March 2014)

The strategic task of the Department of Solar Chemical Engineering is the investigation of solar processes for the production of fuels.

The scientists develop appropriate reactors and equipment, evaluate and optimize these systems technically and apply the results into semi-industrial scale. The

Solar reactor for hydrogen production - HYDROSOL 1

hydrogen production takes centre stage, since hydrogen can be used as energy carrier itself, e.g. in fuel cells, and  is also required for the production of carbon-based liquid or gaseous energy carriers.

In addition, the scientists use their expertise to develop solar high-temperature processes for the recovery of materials, such as aluminum recycling and for solar water purification, desalination and chemical synthesis. A new topic is the evaluation of heat transfer fluids for solar thermal power plants.

The topic Solar Fuels  has in recent years continuously gained importance. The Institute for Solar Research therefor seeks to widen its research activities in this area. The Solar Chemical Engineering Depatment is a member of the following international organizations and working groups:

The R & D topics are scalable reactor technologies, catalysts and their circulation as well as control and continuity of treatment.

Solar Fuels

Hydrogen and other synthetic fuels are attractive long-term energy sources if they are generated by the use of unlimited renewable energy without harmful emissions. It is crucial to develop methods that are so efficient and so cheap that they can penetrate the market in an efficient way. Solar methods provide this potential.

The Solar Process Technology is currently working on the following processes for solar thermal and solar photochemical hydrogen production

  • Thermochemical cycles
  • Solar methane reforming
  • Solar high-temperature electrolysis
  • Photocatalytic Water Splitting

For more information about these technologies , see the listed links in the right column to our collaborative projects, to the fund givers and funding programs in which they are performed.

Solar water purification

Alongside the solar-generated energy sources the department of Solar Chemical Engineering is working for nearly 30 years on the development of technologies to use solar radiation for the purification of water.

SOWARLA plant at the DLR site Lampoldshausen

Together with its partners Solar Process Engineering technology in the context of funded by the German Federal Environmental Foundation project SOWARLA solar wastewater treatment at the DLR Lampoldshausen. The technology is now commercially available and is sold through SOWARLA GmbH.

The use of UV-reactor-based back-up systems and the suitability of LEDs for photocatalytic water treatment is followed-up  in the project PhoPur funded by the BMBF.



Selected Awards

Year Award
2005 Eco Tech Award 2005, Expo Tokyo for the EU-Project HYDROSOL

Technical Achievement Award of the International Partnership for Hydrogen And Fuel Cells in the Economy (IPHE)
for the EU-Project HYDROSOL

2007 Descartes Research Prize 2006 of the EU for the EU-Project HYDROSOL
2008 Energy Globe Award (Section Deutschland) for the SOWARLA-Project



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