With the successful design, engineering, fabrication and erection of the world’s largest capacity molten salt tower receiver at the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project in the United States, SolarReserve continues its commitment to technology innovations and operational excellence through investing in advanced technology research and development. A privately held company, SolarReserve was formed in early 2008 with the purpose of commercializing advanced molten salt technology for utility-scale concentrating solar thermal power. This proprietary technology was developed and tested by rocket scientists at Rocketdyne for more than two decades, with over 100 patents and patents pending. Working with its technology partner Aerojet Rocketdyne, SolarReserve acquired full ownership of the intellectual property (IP) rights and patents related to molten salt technology for concentrating solar-thermal power and electricity storage applications, as well as heliostat designs and collector field control systems. Key personnel at Rocketdyne with critical knowledge continue to work with SolarReserve to further innovate, improve performance and reduce deployment costs in this industry.
More than 10 thousand tracking mirrors called heliostats reside in a 1,500 acre field, where they reflect and concentrate sunlight onto a large heat exchanger called a receiver that sits atop a 640-foot tower.
Inert and non-toxic molten salt flows within the thin-walled tubes of the proprietary receiver at a rate of more than 5,800 gallons per minute and absorbs the concentrated sunlight directed at it in the form of heat energy. The liquid salt is heated from 550°F (288°C) to over 1050°F (566°C). Unlike water that flashes into steam at this temperature, these salts maintain their low pressure liquid state for more efficient heat exchange and thermal storage.
A key feature to SolarReserve’s technology is the fully integrated molten salt thermal storage system. Environmentally friendly molten salt is the working fluid that both captures the sun’s energy and stores it until electricity is needed—day and night. Together with the SolarReserve technology design, the use of molten salt represents the most flexible, efficient and cost-effective form of large-scale energy storage.