Molten Salt As Solar Heat Battery


United Technologies Corp.'s Hamilton Sundstrand unit, is teaming with US Renewables Group to commercialize a solar-power plant that will use molten salt to store the sun's heat and release it in a controlled manner for steady steam turbine power generation.

Hamilton Sundstrand officials say the solar-power business will be managed through a new entity called SolarReserve, which will hold the exclusive license to market and operate utility-scale solar-power plants world-wide. Under the agreement with US Renewables Group, Hamilton Sundstrand's Rocketdyne segment will provide heat-resistant pumps and other equipment, as well as the expertise in handling and storing salt that has been heated to more than 1,050 degrees Fahrenheit. The company says plants using this method will be able to generate as much as 500 megawatts of peak power or run continuously at 50 megawatts. One megawatt is enough power to supply about 1,000 U.S. households.

The salt system looks to be very efficient at heat storage. Potential issues are: 1,) the genius' at US Dept. of Homeland Security might regard the salt repositories as needing to be guarded from potential terrorists (potassium nitrate is a component of black powder); and 2.) concern trolls will point out that the commercially supplied nitrates are made from syngas produced either with natural gas or coal as feedstock.

...According to the company, molten salt loses only about 1% of its heat during a day, making it possible to store energy for long periods of time. The salt is a mixture of sodium and potassium nitrate.

Via::WSJ, Solar Venture Will Draw on Molten Salt; United Technologies, US Renewables Link Up For Clean-Fuel Project

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