We focus on implementing innovative technologies that reduce both costs and environmental impact of producing electricity.

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Food-Energy-Water Nexus

The Food-Energy-Water Nexus describes the inextricable relationship between food security, energy security, and water security.  A change in any one of these areas affects the entire dynamic, and the stability of each area is vital to a high quality of life. What we advocate is the application of technology by which access to food, energy and water may be addressed in one process: a way to transform waste streams from fossil fuel production into food, clean energy and potable water.

Our current research and development areas are:

CO2 Capture and Commoditization of Combustion Byproducts

We are working to implement state-of-the art technologies to capture CO2 for use as a plant growth accelerator.  Additionally, by combining existing technologies to economically reclaim substances such as NOx and SOx, we can produce salable products such as fertilizer and industrial chemicals. We are working with our strategic partner to implement such technologies on a commercial scale. We are also developing methods to reclaim rare earth elements from the solid residue left over after combustion.

Clean Water with Zero-Liquid-Discharge

Clean water is central to our business process. Without being able to produce, treat, and manage large quantities of water at suitable quality, we would not be able to produce and sell electricity. Through embracing our need to treat water, we saw that every other industry deals with many of the same issues. Currently, for all industries, water use and disposal creates the largest single impact to the environment.

Because of our commitment to environmental stewardship, we began developing technologies to treat our own water. Through an integrated approach, we were designed a system that reduced our entire water needs to less than 1.2 gal per kW-hr of power produced, which is only 1/20th of the water used by a conventional power plant.The water surrounding our plant remains clean and untouched.

Energy Storage as the Means to Carbon Reduction

We are designing a grid level energy storage system that allows us to use multiple power sources in parallel, including solar thermal, combustion turbines, conventional furnaces, and even next generation nuclear reactors. This approach allows us to bridge current energy technologies to the zero carbon sources of the future without the need to change or abandon existing infrastructure. When solar-thermal is integrated with energy storage it allows us to use renewable energy without the traditional negative impacts on the grid. We gain an additional benefit when we combine the solar-thermal with conventional thermal sources by offsetting GHG emissions directly without affecting the power output of the plant. In this model, the storage and the conventional fuel source offer us the ability to arbitrage spot market prices.


Countries that have implemented large-scale renewable projects have experienced problems on their grid due to intermittency. As the renewable power generators inject power on to the grid, but then quickly remove power from the grid due to intermittency, thermal plants must burn fossil fuels more inefficiently to maintain supply. The intermittency of renewables will actually cause fossil fuel usage to rise. SPL has developed a process to use molten salt heat storage to allow renewable power sources to work with existing power sources to provide baseload power. It has done this by adapting a traditional thermal power boiler to heat molten salt.

The problem facing renewables is not the production of power, but the storage of it. Molten salt can be the “battery” for renewables. SPL’s concept is to store heat in conjunction with the renewable power source. The stored heat can then be used to generate electricity when the renewables are no longer contributing power to the grid. SPL’s design modification to a traditional boiler using the molten salt is both simple and revolutionary.

The process begins with a conventional coal boiler designed with drainable tubes in order to meet the needs for working with salt. This is important because below 250°C, the salt freezes and expands. There are two types of heat transfer surfaces used in salt furnaces that are exactly like their boiler counterparts: First, the membrane wall; and second, the economizer.

All of the heat transfer surfaces in the salt furnace are single phase, which eliminates the need for steam drums, which greatly minimizes weight and the need for structural support. SPL has found that the circulating fluidized bed (CFB) works best due to the capability to have a compact heat transfer surface with the finned economizer. With a bed temperature less than the fusion temperature of the coal, this will result in a lower overall pressure drop and smaller heat transfer surface.

The use of a CFB boiler allows better economy of the boiler due to recovering more heat from the flue gas. The CFB allows a less aggressive means of cooling, which prevents condensation or acid formation on the heat transfer surfaces. This also allows for a 40% reduction in induced fan power compared to a conventional boiler. Based on the design considerations above, modifying a traditional boiler design to a salt furnace simplifies the design process as well as material selection.

A Catalyst for Organic Food Production

We are working with our strategic partners to create dense closed loop farming techniques. By collocating farms with the power plant, we can virtually eliminate all environmental impact of both the power plant and the farm. By creating a controlled environment for the farm we can further concentrate the CO2 from the power plant sequestering it in the food that we produce. Also, we can use the fertilizers that we produce onsite symbiotically with the production of food.

Because these farms are physically separated from the environment, any fertilizer left over from application does not run off into the local watershed. The need for pesticides is also reduced allowing us to produce food that relies less on industrial chemicals. This means our food products will be environmentally responsible and not contain many of the toxins, pesticides and herbicides that you find from conventionally farmed foods.

A Facilitator for Co-located Industries

As a utility we look to expand the services to our customers. We are working with various industries to collocate their processes at our facility in an integrated park. By collocating, we can develop symbiotic solutions to better meet their needs.

SPL’s integrated park will reduce GHG emissions and environmental impact through shared services provided by SPL. Such services will include syngas, process steam, molten thermal salt, electricity, cooling water, process water treatment, potable water, pure water and industrial water. Our concept is to approach the integrated park as a fully assimilated entity, much like complex living organisms.

We are in the process of adapting our approach and technical expertise to other industries where, for example, one single plant would consume 50,000 m3/day of water. Our goal is to reduce this number three orders of magnitude to 50 m3/day, thereby nearly eliminating environmental impact.

Fully Transparent Electricity Market with Greater Efficiency

We are firmly committed to creating transparent relationships with our customers and removing the middleman in the sale of power. Using block chain technology, we are developing a fluid and transparent market for electricity where power consumers purchase directly from power producers on secure and transparent markets.

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