Solar ovens get heat by concentrating on a small target the sun’s rays reflected by many mirrors. Naturally, the greater the number of reflector mirrors used in a solar furnace, the higher the temperature can be obtained in its working area. But the young company Heliogen went a slightly different way to increase the efficiency of the solar installation. To control the position of the mirrors, a very advanced system of artificial intelligence and computer vision was used, which allowed the furnace to reach record levels at the first start.
The development of the artificial intelligence system was carried out by specialists at Heliogen, who were previously specialists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and other research institutes. This system provides a highly accurate setting of the position of each reflector mirror, taking into account the position of the Sun and a number of other factors.
As a result of using such a control system on a Heliogen solar furnace, a temperature in excess of 1,000 degrees Celsius was already obtained during the first launch. This temperature is more than enough to produce superheated steam or molten salts, which are used as intermediate coolants in the production of electrical energy. In addition, such temperatures will allow for many energy-intensive technological processes using only one solar energy.
Heliogen management believes that some changes in the design of the solar furnace will allow it to reach temperatures in the future of more than 1,500 degrees Celsius. This, in turn, will already allow splitting carbon dioxide and water into separate components, producing hydrogen or liquid hydrocarbons at the output, which can be used as a substitute for gasoline burned in automobile engines.
In conclusion, it should be noted that the largest investor in Heliogen is the well-known Bill Gates, the founder and former head of Microsoft, who now supports the development of new technologies, especially those designed to compensate for the losses caused by humanity to nature and the environment for all the past years.