Molten Salt Solution

Storing Heat as Molten Salt to Save Energy for Later Use

The biggest complaint about the use of solar, or any other form of renewable energy, is that it is hard to store. Especially since the power sources are sporadic. Solar power is only available on clear sunny days, and wind, of course is only available on windy days. The problem, then, is how to effectively store it. The solution to this is an interesting one.

Molten Salt-Basically, it goes like this. Heliostats (very large mirrors) concentrate the sun onto a tower, which heats a liquid inside. In this case, the liquid inside is molten salt, which is a mixture of sodium and potassium nitrate. This mixture is heated, moved to a storage tank and then sent through a steam generator, which turns a turbine and creates electricity. The cooled salt is then sent back to the tower to begin the process again.

The difference between most liquids and molten salt is that the molten salt can stay hot longer, so it can be more efficient, in that it can generate electricity after the sun goes down with the stored energy.



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