Sunlight in a tank

Steven Roman

Challenge

Plant designers needed to store molten salts heated to over 600 degrees Celsius.

Solution

Austenitic Outokumpu Therma stainless steel was used to create plant’s hot nitrate storage tank with excellent temperature- and corrosion-resistance properties.

Delivery

Steel grade: Outokumpu delivered 650 tonnes of Outokumpu Therma 347H stainless steel. Over 60 tonnes of Outokumpu’s Forta LDX 2101 went into their anchoring bolts.
Product form: quarto plate

Clean, abundant and costing absolutely nothing, solar power may one day prove to be the answer to the world’s energy puzzle. But perfecting utility-scale electricity production has always come up against a fundamental roadblock: when the sun goes down, the power dies. Designers of the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Plant in Nevada have overcome that hurdle using a first-of-its-kind system that relies on molten salt to store heat, allowing the plant to stay in operation day and night, rain or shine.

 

Taking the heat

Like most plants built on the Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) model, Crescent Dunes consists of a field of tracking mirrors, or heliostats, that focus light onto a central receiver atop a concrete tower.

Rather than using the sunlight to boil water directly as other CSPs do, Crescent Dunes heats a mix of sodium and potassium nitrate to over 600 degrees Celsius and pumps it to an insulated thermal storage tank made of Outokumpu Therma stainless steel. Whenever electricity is needed, the salt is sent through a steam generation system, superheating water to turn a turbine.

For creating the plant’s hot nitrate storage tank, Outokumpu delivered 650 tonnes of Therma 347H quarto plate. Therma range is specifically designed for high temperatures. This grade’s superb corrosion resistance, given the harsh salts it would be exposed to, was also essential in ensuring that the plant can long fulfil its duty, supplying enough power for 75,000 homes.

 

Pivotal, in two ways

Stainless steel was also mission critical to the plant’s more than 10,000 heliostats. These must pivot on two planes as they track the path of the sun throughout the day, keeping the energy-rich rays directed toward the receiver.

Over 60 tonnes of Outokumpu’s Forta LDX 2101 went into their anchoring bolts, which have to function in an atmosphere of wildly fluctuating temperatures, sand, moisture and the corrosion that comes with them. This duplex stainless steel grade was chosen for its ability to withstand these tough conditions, making sure the sunlight never loses focus, nor does the drive toward clean, renewable energy.

Recommended products and insight

Appliances

When it comes to appliances, today’s consumer insists on full functionality wrapped in effortless beauty. Corrosion-resistant, easy to clean, strong and formable: Stainless steel delivers durable, timeless perfection.

Energy and heavy industry

In energy and heavy industry, failure is simply not an option. When one single mishap can explode into a full-blown crisis, only stainless steel can deliver the assurance of control that you depend on.

Forta

The Forta range contains duplex and other high strength stainless steels that enable thinner structures and weight reduction (measured in Rp0.2 > 400 MPa. PRE 16 to 43).

Hot rolled stainless steel coil, strip and plate

Offering exceptional versatility, Outokumpu hot rolled coil, strip and plate are used in virtually all industries and markets. In addition to plates, Outokumpu produces quarto plate that is available in thicknesses up to 130 mm. 

Sustainability

Outokumpu's four value propositions: recycling maximized, nothing to hide, pays for itself and indispensability showcase Outokumpu's strengths, which answer to key sustainability needs. By selecting Outokumpu's stainless steel, our customers also benefit from these in their own sustainability efforts.

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