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PWR's Solar Power Tower Technology Installation Now Complete
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April 04, 2013

PWR's Solar Power Tower Technology Installation Now Complete

By Rory Lidstone
TMCnet Contributing Writer

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne (PWR), a provider of ground breaking engineering solutions and rocket engine manufacturer, this week completed the installation of its new solar technology. The green tech is a significant step forward over traditional solar technology as it is able to provide reliable energy on demand, even while not in direct sunlight.

Indeed, the 14 Concentrated Solar Panel (CSP (News - Alert)) receivers planned for installation are now in place, while heat shields have been installed at the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy project and construction of 10,400 articulating mirrors (heliostats) has begun in Tonopah, Nevada. Meanwhile, PWR has granted large-scale solar energy project developer SolarReserve with the worldwide exclusive license for the molten salt power tower and heliostat technologies.

PWR developed both the receiver panel technology and certain critical components of the molten salt power tower, also supplying the receiver structure technology which the heliostats direct sunlight to. As such, the 110-megawatt project will be the nation's first commercial-scale molten salt solar power tower and the world's largest plant with a fully integrated energy storage system, itself able to power 75,000 homes, when commissioned in 2014.

"This is a major milestone for Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne and molten salt technology," said Bill Leinart, CSP program manager for PWR, in a statement. "The receiver panels and heat shields are installed and we're now in the process of installing the interconnecting piping between pans at the top and bottom of the receiver panels. We will be ready to start commissioning the receiver in a few weeks, in preparation for converting reflected sunlight from the heliostat field into electrical power that is will go directly into NV Energy's transmission lines and the nation's power grid."

While PWR is best known as a provider of rocket engine technology, the company has been leveraging its knowledge in this area in recent years in energy-related endeavors, such as oxy-combustion and concentrated solar power. According to Don Stevenson, deputy director of Energy Systems at PWR, rocket engines require "expertise in fluid dynamics, high temperature thermal management, combustion, structural analyses, advanced materials, rotating machinery and cryogenic applications," which is exactly the kind of knowledge needed to create advanced energy solutions.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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