Southwest completes proof of concept testing of solar thermal turbine receiver

Southwest Solar Technologies Inc. announced today the successful on-sun testing and proof of concept of a high temperature air receiver. The high temperature air receiver is a prototype test component to validate the design for the advanced solar-turbine power system being developed by the Company. The Company’s system uses a parabolic solar dish with mirrors to concentrate the sun’s energy to power a high-efficiency turbine engine and produce electricity.

“We are moving our solar-turbine technology forward consistently and methodically. This is the latest big milestone in our development work”

The testing was conducted using the Company’s 320 square meter solar concentrating dish, the largest solar dish in North America. The dish is capable of delivering over a quarter megawatt of thermal energy in the form of concentrated sunlight, focusing the equivalent heat of 2,000 suns into the proprietary design “receiver.” Inside this receiver compressed air is super-heated to power a high speed turbine alternator. Initial testing was conducted with attenuation screens on the dish to reduce the input energy to 50 kWth, approximately 20% of full capacity. Even at this reduced power, the receiver operated at the temperature goal of 925 C (1700 F), and met goals for efficiency.

“This high temperature performance achieved far exceeds typical 400 C temperature of other concentrating solar power (CSP) systems, such as trough and power towers, that use steam turbine technology to produce electricity, and the system requires no water cooling. The Company’s unique air based turbine cycle, operating at much higher temperatures, is designed to achieve greater than 30% efficiency. This efficiency would far exceed typical photovoltaic (PV) or other concentrated solar energy solar power systems,” said Herb Hayden, Chief Technical Officer.