The Global View

Solar power stored in melted salt

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And you thought salt was just for putting on chips or annoying slugs with. That’s so salt 1.0. Pah. Salt has far more in its future. Salt could one day capture and store the sun’s energy and, who knows, start its own religion. (Greenbang may be guessing about the last bit.)

Aerospace manufacturer Hamilton Sundstrand, with some help from its VC friends, is developing a system to use molten salt to retain solar energy. Here comes the science bit (courtesy of Newsday), concentrate:

Hamilton Sundstrand and US Renewables Group, which will handle financing and project management, say the plan’s use of molten salt overcomes the problem of storing solar power collected on sunny days, but is needed at night or during cloudy days.
Molten salt, a mixture of sodium and potassium nitrate, circulates through a central receiver, is heated by sunlight to more than 1,000 degrees, stored in a tank and dispatched into a steam generator. The steam drives a turbine that generates electricity. The cooled salt re-circulates and the process begins again.

While Hamilton Sundstrand is keeping quiet on how much developing the spiffy new technology will cost, the firm reckons on making $1 billion over 10 to 15 years. It’s enough to make a VC’s eyes water.