Putting the Sun's Temperature in a Tube: SEHC Labs Turns Up the Heat on Solar Thermal Energy

SHEC solar thermal reactor image

image: SHEC

Solar Hydrogen Energy Corporation Labs has announced that they have developed the world’s most efficient solar thermal energy technology. Though only at the prototype stage, SEHC has developed a way to concentrate sunlight to levels 5,000 that which normally fall on the Earth’s surface. By focusing the light through a tube the heat can approach 6,000°C, a temperature which can melt metal at the light’s focus point. In order to keep the system from self-destructing the heat has to be continually pulled off the tube and put to work elsewhere.
The SEHC Solar Thermal Reactor
Pure Energy System News explains how SHEC has managed to harness this intense energy:

The light enters the aperture of a long, cylindrical tube lined with a highly-reflective coating. That might seem counter-intuitive, but what happens is that as the light bounces back and forth down and then back up that tube, 95% of the heat energy is gradually—rather than suddenly—absorbed by the tube before the light bounces back out the aperture.

In the commercial unit, the receiver apparatus will be about the size of a 45-gallon drum, and the aperture and tube will be around four inches in diameter.

This array will result in a 11,000-fold concentration of the sun's energy. SHEC pulls the heat off of that tube to perform work.

Three Gigawatts of Solar Thermal Power to Be Developed
If that sounds far fetched to readers, it doesn’t to investors: SHEC says it has signed agreements to develop 3 GW of solar thermal facilities—six farms of 500 MW each—beginning next year, using this technology. Though the cost of developing a solar thermal array using this technology will be expensive, SHEC says the payback time for its facilities will be five to fifteen years.

Considering that this technology is only a prototype at this point, I’d be surprised if there weren’t some growing pains scaling this to a commercial-level, let alone developing six 500 MW farms. There’s a big difference between proving a concept works and bringing it into commercial production. Hopefully I wrong though, and SHEC will be able to bring greater efficiency and more power to the solar thermal power sector.

via :: Pure Energy Systems News and :: Eco Geek
Solar Energy
Solar Thermal Power in North Africa: How Much Land to Power the World?
Solar Thermal Test Center Opened by BrightSource Energy in Israel
Acciona Energy to Build Two 50-Megawatt Solar Thermal Power Plants in Spain

Related Content on Treehugger.com