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The research programme

Diagram of a 10 kW prototype reactor for the solar thermal dissociation of ZnO into Zn and O2. Source: PSI
Diagram of a 10 kW prototype reactor for the solar thermal dissociation of ZnO into Zn and O2. Source: PSI Diagram of a 10 kW prototype reactor for the solar thermal dissociation of ZnO into Zn and O2. Source: PSI
Twenty-five years ago, Swiss research and industry were among the leaders in the field of development of solar thermal power plants. But since no facility was constructed in the Alps and no export market opened up, Switzerland refocused its efforts on solar thermal and photochemical conversion. It was not until the past few years, however, that solar thermal power plants made a breakthrough onto the energy market. The production of combustibles (hydrogen) via the ZnO / Zn thermochemical cycle is also being developed in Switzerland. A 300 kW pilot reactor for thermally reducing ZnO is being tested.

This programme focuses on the following areas of research: solar thermochemistry, solar heat in industrial processes and solar thermal power plants (concentrated solar power, or CSP).

Research priorities of the High-temperature Solar Energy research programme

Solar thermochemistry: finalisation of research into the ZnO / Zn cycle; development of the solar thermo-dissociation reactor (10 kW prototype and 100 kW pilot facility), together with the Odeillo project; carbothermal reduction of ZnO; research into the thermochemical production of fuels; recycling of hazardous waste.

High-temperature heat for industrial processes: engineering and implementation of systems for integrating solar heat into industrial production processes; high-temperature materials for use in solar applications; calculation of real potential.

High-temperature heat for solar thermal power plants: high-temperature materials for use in solar applications; development of projects in accordance with the needs and interests of industry in the following areas: solar reflectors (heliostats), turbines, heat exchangers, software and pilot installations, etc.

Related documents

Federal government energy research concept
Reports of programme heads
Reports on High-temperature solar energy research programme

Further information

Energy research at the Swiss Federal Office of Energy
Organisation and contacts of SFOE energy research
Hydrogen research programme
Solar heat and heat storage research programme
Photovoltaics research programme
Contact: Stefan Oberholzer
Last update: 03.11.2015


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