Pass The Molten Salt, Please  

Posted by Big Gav has more on using molten salt for storing energy in CSP plants.

"The molten salt holds its heat very efficiently and for long periods of time," Dan Coulom, spokesman at Hamilton Sundstrand, told Coulum said the company, a subsidiary of United Technologies (NYSE: UTX), plans to build as many as 10 plants over the next 10 to 15 years, pulling in revenues of $1 billion over that time period.

With concentrated solar, a large number of motor-controlled mirrors track the sun and reflect the solar energy onto a tower receiver, which in turn heats a liquid that can be used to make steam. A steam turbine can then produce electricity. "The molten salt, which is in a storage tank at the bottom of the tower, is run up through the receiver and heated to about 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit," said Coulom.

The company said using molten salt, a mixture of sodium and potassium nitrate, instead of water or oil, allows the heat to be stored for use on cloudy days or at night. ...

A planned 15 MW plant based on the Solar Two project is being built in Andalusia, Spain, called Solar Tres. It's backed by a coalition of companies including Sener, Ghersa, Siemens (NYSE: SI) and Saint Gobain, as well as 5 million euros in funding from the European Commission.

Some other solar thermal projects have been getting a lot of attention lately as potentially inexpensive and viable options for utility-scale renewable energy. In September, Palo Alto, Calif.-based Ausra grabbed $40 million from Khosla Ventures and Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers, then quickly made deals later that month to build 1,500 MW of solar thermal over the next five to seven years in the U.S. (see Ausra, FPL, PG&E heat up solar thermal). The total cost of Ausra's deals with San Francisco utility PG&E (NYSE: PCG) and Juno Beach, Fla., utility FPL Group (NYSE: FPL) could reach $4.5 billion. Ausra's system uses flat plate mirrors called Fresnel reflectors to concentrate the sun's rays directly on water pipes, boiling the water to run steam turbines.

Israel's Solel Solar Systems plans to use parabolic trough technology in its Mojave Solar Park project in California (see Solel's new 553 MW solar thermal plant). Solel expects to break ground on the 553 MW plant in mid 2009, with the project set to go online in 2011. also reports that efforts are underway to start generating tidal power in Canada's Bay Of Fundy.
North America's first tidal power test site could be up and running as early as next year. The government of Nova Scotia, Canada, picked three candidates to get a first shot at testing their tidal power generators in the Bay of Fundy, which has the highest tides in the world.

It would be North America's first tidal power test site and it could be up and running as early as next year with turbines from Canada, the U.S. and Ireland. "They're planning to build four subsea cables, so there's four potential berths. One may be used as a redundant cable, but there is a possibility that we'll put in four machines," Matt Lumley, a spokesman for the Nova Scotia Department of Energy, told ...

The potential for tidal power in the Bay of Fundy is big, with about 100 billion tons of seawater flowing in and out of the bay each day, more than the combined flow of the world's freshwater rivers, according to Nova Scotia's Department of Energy.

But those strong tides put some limits on when a turbine can go in the water. "You have an hour a day when you can actually put this in," said Lumley. "Two one-hour windows a day, and probably one of them is during daylight."

When fully developed, the department said the bay could generate 300 megawatts of electricity, enough energy to power close to 100,000 homes.

Renewable Energy Access has an article on using CSP to convert carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide, and then into liquid fuels - "Sunshine to Petrol Project Seeks Fuel from Thin Air
Using concentrated solar energy to reverse combustion, a research team from Sandia National Laboratories is building a prototype device intended to chemically "reenergize" carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide using concentrated solar power. The carbon monoxide could then be used to make hydrogen or serve as a building block to synthesize a liquid combustible fuel, such as methanol or even gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.

The prototype device, called the Counter Rotating Ring Receiver Reactor Recuperator (CR5, for short), will break a carbon-oxygen bond in the carbon dioxide to form carbon monoxide and oxygen in two distinct steps. It is a major piece of an approach to converting carbon dioxide into fuel from sunlight.

The Sandia research team calls this approach "Sunshine to Petrol" (S2P). "Liquid Solar Fuel" is the end product — the methanol, gasoline or other liquid fuel made from water and the carbon monoxide produced using solar energy.

CR5 inventor Rich Diver says the original idea for the device was to break down water into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen could then fuel a potential hydrogen economy.

The Sandia researchers came up with the idea to use the CR5 to break down carbon dioxide, just as it would water. Over the past year they have shown proof of concept and are completing a prototype device that will use concentrated solar energy to reenergize carbon dioxide or water, the products of combustion. This will form carbon monoxide, hydrogen, and oxygen, which ultimately could be used to synthesize liquid fuels in an integrated S2P system.


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