Solar furnaces belong to the solar concentrator power generation family and are classified as a renewable (green) source of energy.
How Solar Furnaces Work
The below video is an extract from our Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Explained Online Video Course.
Solar furnace uses heliostats to reflect the sun’s rays onto a set of parabolic mirrors. The parabolic mirrors then focus the sun’s rays onto a furnace at the top of a tower. The temperature of the furnace is very hot, typically higher than 800 degrees Celsius. Molten salt is pumped into the furnace and its temperature increases from approximately 300 degrees Celsius to over 600 degrees Celsius. The hot molten salt is then delivered to a storage tank.
The hot molten salt leaves the storage tank and passes through a steam generator. Water is heated by the molten salt until it turns to steam. The steam is then sent to a steam turbine and the ‘cold’ molten salt is returned to a storage tank.
Steam enters a steam turbine and causes it to rotate as it passes through the blades. The steam turbine is connected to an alternator via a gearbox and the generator generates electricity. The steam is then condensed by a condenser and pumped back to the steam generator where it is again turned to steam.
Generated electricity from the generator is distributed to an electrical transformer where the voltage is increased. The electrical current is then sent through an open air switchyard and into the national grid. Increasing the voltage reduces losses when the power is distributed through the national grid.
Modular cooling towers are used to cool the steam back to condensate. Cold cooling water is sent from the cooling tower to the condenser where it is heated by the steam. The steam changes state and becomes condensate. The ‘hot’ cooling water is then distributed to the cooling tower where the heat is passed to the ambient air.
3D Model Details
This 3D model shows all major components associated with a typical solar furnace power generation facility. Main components include:
- Parabolic Mirrors
- Hot and Cold Molten Salt Storage Tanks
- Steam Turbine
- Cooling Tower
- Electrical Transformer
- Open Air Switchyard
- Steam Generator
- Electrical Pylon