SPAIN/GERMANY – Novatec Solar and BASF have worked together on the development of a demonstration solar thermal plant based on the new technology of molten salt that is also known as the DMS technology. The plant is located on the solar thermal power plant PE1 site in southern Spain. The system uses a molten inorganic salt as the fluid for heat transfer. Most current solar thermal power plants use oil to a limited temperature close to 400° C for the heat transfer. The use of inorganic salts allows fluid transfer to reach a temperature above 500° C. This reaction leads to a significant increase in output power. The thermal energy can be directly converted into electrical energy and stored in large tanks of molten salt during periods of low demand. This stored energy can be reserved for times when the production is insufficient as when the sky is overcast. This type of storage is already used on more generators using solar thermal technology concentration (CSP). These generators generally utilize thermal oil as heat transfer fluid in the manifolds and are used to supply heat exchangers storage.
Over the coming months, the collector will be used for demonstration purposes of experimental simulation on different operating conditions. Impacts and reliability over the long term will also be tested. The results will be used to develop the next generation of solar thermal power plants. BASF and Novatec Solar use the molten salt as heat transfer fluid in a Fresnel plant collector. This type of collector is an alternative to the most common generators cylinder parabolic reflectors using flat glass. A Fresnel collector is composed of almost flat reflectors, mounted in a row on a steel structure. They concentrate the sunlight onto a receiver, through which the molten salt is pumped.

For several years, BASF has conducted research on the development of heat transfer fluids based on inorganic salts and process control concepts for solar thermal power plants. The company also has over 30 years experience in the operation of so-called bath salt reactors. Besides the use in chemical plants, minerals can be reasonably used in any application that requires the transport and storage of heat. The integration of Novatec Solar DMS technology with molten salt storage can increase the annual operating hours of solar thermal power plants. Consequently, the cost of producing electricity from solar thermal power plants using Novatec DMS technology are significantly reduced. The successful demonstration highlights the role played by Novatec Solar as a technology provider of the Fresnel collector. BASF his side becomes a preferred supplier of minerals and technology concepts for process control.

The DMS collector demonstration project is supported by the German Federal Ministry of Economy and Energy (BMWi) following a decision by the German parliament. According to Mr. Andreas Wittke, CEO of Novatec Solar, commissioning and the first results of the demonstration plant DMS are a success. The company is delighted to offer solar thermal plants with molten salt technology and thermal storage for marketing.