Research and Development in the Solar Research Facilities Unit of the Weizmann Institute of Science: Past, Present, and Future

By Michael Epstein, Irina Vishnevetsky, Akiba Segal, Rachamim Rubin and Doron Lieberman.

Published by The International Journal of Environmental Sustainability

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

R&D on implementation of concentrated solar energy plays an essential role in environmental sustainability development. An experimental Solar Tower, paired with a heliostat field, was constructed at the Weizmann Institute of Science (WIS) campus in 1987 and serves as the main center for R&D of concentrated solar technologies in Israel. The paper describes the features of the Solar Facilities and the projects that were successfully realized during its 25 years of operation. These projects have been supported by the European Commission and Israeli Ministries of Energy and Industry, including experimental systems for zinc oxide carboreduction, methane reforming, solar energy storage, solar pumped lasers, methane cracking, pressurized air heating for solarized Brayton cycle and different thermo-chemical redox cycles for water splitting, and hydrogen production at atmospheric pressure, as well as under vacuum conditions. This paper also describes the main development in solar concentrating optics, including the worldwide first working beam-down facility based on the Cassegrain reflector principle. Several commercial scale Solar Towers, which were built outside Israel during the last years, were based extensively on results from the WIS Solar Research Facilities Unit (SRFU). Unfortunately, the future of the WIS Solar Tower’s activities is unclear because of the recent decision by the Weizmann Institute administration to change the use of the Solar Tower specific building and turn it into a National Center for Personalized Medicine.

Keywords: Concentrated Solar Energy, Tower, Heliostat, Field, Concentrator

The International Journal of Environmental Sustainability, Volume 9, Issue 4, December 2014, pp.97-116. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 855.846KB).

Michael Epstein

Solar Tower Director, Solar Research Facilities Unit, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel

Dr. Irina Vishnevetsky

Associate Staff Scientist, Department of Environmental Science and Energy Research, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel

Dr. Akiba Segal

Senior Staff Scientist, Department of Chemical Research Support, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel

Rachamim Rubin

Researcher, Solar Research Facilities Unit, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel

Doron Lieberman

Chief Operation Engineer, Solar Research Facilities Unit, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel