Molten Salt Solar Reactor Approved by California

Posted on December 18, 2010  Comments (13)

California has approved a molten salt solar reactor project. The plan is for a 150-megawatt solar power tower project. From the press release: the “Solar Energy Project has the ability to collect and store enough thermal energy each morning to operate at full power all afternoon and for up to 8 hours after sunset. The game-changing technology featuring inherent energy storage affords utilities with a generator that performs with the reliability and dispatchability of a conventional power generator without harmful emissions that are associated with burning coal, natural gas and oil.”

diagram of solar energy project using molton salt

molten salt solar system diagram

The heliostats focus concentrated sunlight on a receiver which sits on top of the tower. Within the receiver, the concentrated sunlight heats molten salt to over 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. The heated molten salt then flows into a thermal storage tank where it is stored, maintaining 98% thermal efficiency, and eventually pumped to a steam generator. The steam drives a standard turbine to generate electricity. This process, also known as the “Rankine cycle” is similar to a standard coal-fired power plant, except it is fueled by clean and free solar energy.

This is another green energy project that has a great deal of potential. There is a great need for such new energy sources and hopefully quite a few of these projects will let us enjoy a greener and more sustainable way to meet our future energy needs.

For those interested in the business aspects of this energy project: United Technologies provided SolarReserve with an exclusive worldwide license to develop projects using the proprietary molten salt power tower technology, which has been in development for nearly three decades.

Related: Solar Thermal in Desert, to Beat Coal by 2020Wind Power Capacity Up 170% Worldwide from 2005-2009Cost Efficient Solar Dish by StudentsSolar Tower Power Generation

13 Responses to “Molten Salt Solar Reactor Approved by California”

  1. jmumaw
    December 18th, 2010 @ 2:08 pm

    This is a very interesting consept. I never heard of using salt to generate green energy.
    It seems that we only hear about these wonderful inventions, but never see it at a large scale. Big energy companies don’t want these inventors to cut into their piece of the pie. Hope it takes off, and more states approve it.

  2. Karl L. Hughes
    December 19th, 2010 @ 4:13 pm

    That is really cool. Fuel costs of zero might make that worth it. Now we just need to come up with a storage system so it works all night, right?

  3. Anonymous
    December 25th, 2010 @ 8:28 am

    Very interesting, hope this gets seen to right through until completion.

    I wonder how many sq metres of these reflectors it takes to achieve these energy levels? I’d think at least 100m sq.

  4. Jake
    January 1st, 2011 @ 12:31 am

    I have seen pilot projects circulating molten sales through pipes running through the focal point of simple curve reflectors, this somewhat lower tech solution doesn’t require precision target focusing, just simple sun tracking, I suppose there’s some loss associated with the circulation plumbing.
    Historically late night energy demands are considerably lower, I understand that the surplus of energy from conventional plant running full bore 24-7 was the driving factor behind the push for street lights.

  5. Russ Egan
    January 26th, 2011 @ 2:54 am

    The need to store energy is the next stage needed to really make renewable energy sources a viable alternative. Molten salt may be the next stepping stone, but we still need to wait for the overall price to come down to compete with coal power before we really see this kind of idea take of. I am pleased to see someone is trying it though.

  6. Ronald
    February 1st, 2011 @ 1:44 am

    Very interesting. Just read a blog that is informative as this one. http://www.judithbassler.com/blog/advancing-technology-with-molten-salt.html

  7. Robert
    February 19th, 2011 @ 9:03 am

    If you’re interested in how to get funding for innovative projects like this, it might be worth reading the following article:

    businessbecause.com/mba-life/imperial-mbas-fight-it-out-over-innovation-projects.htm

  8. Finding Huge Sources of Energy Without Increasing Carbon Dioxide Output » Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog
    March 7th, 2011 @ 4:34 pm

    Bill Gates talking about energy, and climate change, at TED. He is looking at a new type of nuclear reactor using as fuel, what is now nuclear waste…

  9. Bob Wilson
    March 25th, 2011 @ 12:23 pm

    We have seen the bad face of nuclear energy in japan and now time has come to go for solar energy and it is the only way by which we can save this beautiful earth..

  10. Mischa Hoeper
    April 3rd, 2011 @ 4:17 pm

    Wow! This is a very interesting concept. It’s about time we start trying to find new and greener ways of producing electricity. I feel like this could eventually become a much more reliable and and already safer source of energy compared to using nuclear reactors. I wonder how much power one of these puts out compared to a nuclear reactor? Maybe one day these could replace all nuclear reactors…

  11. Anonymous
    August 11th, 2011 @ 5:57 am

    Wow! This is a very interesting concept. It’s about time we start trying to find new and greener ways of producing electricity. I feel like this could eventually become a much more reliable and and already safer source of energy compared to using nuclear reactors. I wonder how much power one of these puts out compared to a nuclear reactor? Maybe one day these could replace all nuclear reactors…

  12. Thorium Nuclear Reactors » Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog
    March 13th, 2012 @ 10:04 am

    […] Molten Salt Solar Reactor Approved by California – Helium-3 Fusion Reactor – Nuclear Power Production by Country from 1985-2009 – […]

  13. M. Aqeel Khan
    October 30th, 2013 @ 12:32 pm

    I came to know about molten salt miracle a few days back and I also know that it is a mixture of sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate but these salts are crystle. How they become liquid? I am also trying to find out how I can fix these plants in my country. If any one knows any company please inform me.

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