Hamilton Sundstrand, a division of United Technologies, announced this week that it will start to commercialize a new type of solar power plant. A new company called SolarReserve will be created to provide heat-resistant pumps and other equipment, as well as the expertise in handling and storing salt that has been heated to more than 1,050 degrees Fahrenheit. According to venture capitalist Vinod Khosla ‘Three percent of the land area of Morocco could support all of the electricity for Western Europe.’ Molten Salt storage is already used in Nevada’s Solar One power plant. The molten salt is used because it’s pumpable, so that it can quickly gather up a bunch of energy from the reflectors, and just as quickly dump it through conduction when the heat is used to make steam. Water is king, in terms of storing heat, unfortunately it turns to gas at a relatively low temperature. Fortunately, it can be stored under pressure, unfortunately the pressure goes up very much at very high temperatures, which makes containing it more expensive, more dangerous and generally harder to do. Is this the post-hydrocarbon world finally knocking?” I found this video on Nevada‘s Solar One power plant that will give you an idea of how this technology works.

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