Solar Technology Laboratory (LST)

The Solar Technology Laboratory (LST), established in 1988, belongs to the Energy and Environment Research Division, (ENE) at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI). Our laboratory develops and optimizes solar-driven thermochemical processes and demonstrates their technical and economic feasibility at an industrially relevant scale. Solar chemical technologies may be used for the delivery of clean, sustainable energy services, such as the solar thermal production of fuels (e.g., hydrogen, syngas, and synthetic liquid hydrocarbons) and chemical commodities (e.g. aluminum, zinc) for the power, transportation and chemical sectors of the world energy economy.

PSI is currently phasing out of the concentrated solar energy research. All running projects will be finished until spring 2018.


2014 Milestone2014.jpg Successful operation and demonstration of the 100 kW pilot-scale solar thermochemical receiver-reactor (BFE project Solar2Zinc) was performed at the megawatt solar furnace. The solar reactor was operated for over 120 hours, reaching sustained reaction temperatures well above 2000 K, on as many as 3 consecutive days, where over 28 kg of ZnO was dissociated at reaction rates as high as 28 g/min.
2011 Milestone2011.jpg Commissioning of a 100 kW solar pilot plant (BFE project Solar2Zinc) for the thermochemical dissociation of zinc oxide and the subsequent production of zinc and syngas, which can be further processed to liquid fuels (e.g., methanol, gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel).
2009 Milestone2009.jpg Commissioning of a 150 kW solar pilot plant (Industrial project SOLSYN) to produce synthesis gas (syngas) from carbonaceous waste materials, biomass and coal. The solar-derived syngas can be used for substituting fossil fuels in a cement kiln or further processed to hydrogen or liquid fuels.
2005 Milestone2005plant.png Commissioning of a 300 kW solar pilot plant (EU project SOLZINC) to produce high temperature process heat for the carbothermic reduction of zinc oxide. The solar-produced zinc can be used to either generate hydrogen, synthesis gas or electricity (with Zn-air batteries).
2005 Milestone2005.png Inauguration of PSI’s High-Flux Solar Simulator (HFSS) that enables reproducible and weather independent experimental work under controlled steady and unsteady radiation conditions.
1997 Milestone1997.jpg Inauguration of PSI’s powerful High-Flux Solar Furnace (HFSF) as an experimental tool to investigate high temperature processes for the chemical storage of solar energy.
1994 The project «Solar Hydrogen» aims at converting concentrated solar energy into chemical energy carriers – i.e. Solar Fuels – that can be long-term stored and long-ranged transported. Thus, solar energy can be used even if the sun is not shining.