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Molten salt energy Mon, Dec 20, 2010
California is planning to build a molten salt power plant in the desert, which is kind of cool.  If you're a nerd, you might like reading these words: 
In the case of a molten salt solar plant, heliostats--giant rotating mirrors controlled by computers to best track and reflect sun onto a specific point--reflect sun rays onto a central tower, or a series of pipes, containing a molten salt mixture. The molten salt generally consists of sodium nitrates and potassium. The solar rays heat the liquefied salt to a temperature of up to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The steam from the molten salt is then harnessed to power a generator that makes electricity. Afterward, the cooled molten salt is then piped back to the tower to be heated once again.
If you're not a nerd, you might enjoy reading these words instead: 
With reliability, unused desert, no pollution, and no fuel costs, the obstacles for large deployment for [concentrated solar power] are cost, aesthetics, land use and similar factors for the necessary connecting high tension lines.
I've been to the desert, and personally I'd be ok with having a big ugly solar plant in the middle of nowhere, as opposed to, say, coal-burning power plants strewn about the "Garden State."  Two interesting factoids:  (1) This is essentially the same system as nuclear power but instead of capturing the heat from a radiation-emitting nuclear fuel rod, it's capturing the heat from a sun-warmed block of salt.  (2) The "salt" is actually a mixture of sodium nitrate and potassium nitrate, which are used in gun powder and rocket propellants. #technology

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