Commercial Solar Power Understanding Molten Salt Batteries
Solar power is often discussed in terms of dealing with home energy needs. Why not in larger terms? Well, the problem is storage. Most devices have been inefficient at storing the massive amounts of energy produced on solar farms. This is where molten salt batteries might change things.
The primary method for producing electricity is simple. One heats water to the point it turns to steam. The steam is then pressurized and passed over a turbine fan. The fan spins a generator in the system and electricity is produced. This is the method used with nuclear power, hydropower, coal power and so on. The only issue is how you heat the water.
Undertaking this process with solar power has always been iffy at best. There has been no real efficient means for doing it. That is now changing and molten salt batteries are a big part of the change. To understand how they work, we first have to understand what they are and how they are used.
Mention a solar power farm and many people picture a field of solar panels. This is incorrect in most cases. Instead, one gets a field of mirrors. The mirrors are controlled by a computer system. They are tilted at different angles to do just one thing. They redirect light to the top section of a tower placed in the middle of the mirrors. This section is filled with a large amount of a salt mixture.
Why salt? Well, the salt becomes molten when it is heated to over 500 degrees Celsius. Once this happens, it tends to retain the heat very well. It is actually removed from the tower and stored in thermal compartments where it will hold above 95 percent of its heat. Within a short period of time, it is placed into another compartment where the heat it is holding is used to turn water into steam. The process is pretty much the same as used with coal, but there are no pollutants or greenhouse gases.
This might be the only time you ever read about molten batteries in your life. The next time you read about your utility company buying electricity from a solar farm, this may be exactly what is involved.
By: Tom Ajava
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