A secret clean energy startup backed by Bill Gates has just gone public with the announcement of its new technology that uses concentrated solar energy to exceed temperatures greater than 1,000 degrees Celsius (1,800 degrees Fahrenheit)—and it could be a game-changer in the fight against the climate crisis.
For perspective, that kind of heat is about one-quarter of the temperatures found on the surface of the sun. At that temperature, the energy company—Heliogen—can replace the use of fossil fuels in critical industrial processes, including the production of cement, steel, and petrochemicals, dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions from these activities.
This singular scientific achievement was accomplished at Heliogen's commercial facility in Lancaster, California.
Heliogen's mission is to create the world's first technology that can commercially replace fossil fuels with carbon-free, ultra-high temperature heat from the sun and to transform sunlight into fuels at scale—taking a major step towards solving climate change.
Its heat technology represents a key technical breakthrough for concentrated solar thermal. Previous commercial concentrating solar thermal systems have been designed to reach temperatures of up to only 565 degrees Celsius—useful for power generation, but insufficient for many industrial processes. Many of these processes require much higher temperatures, which have traditionally been reached through the burning of fossil fuels.
The potential impact of Heliogen's patented technology is massive. With temperatures from its concentrating solar thermal technology exceeding 1,000 degrees Celsius, Heliogen will be able to replace the fuel that generates greenhouse gas emissions from industrial processes with solar energy for the first time. For instance, cement production—one of the industrial processes well suited to Heliogen's technology—alone accounts for more than 7% of global CO2 emissions.