Magnetohydrodynamics: the next generation of solar thermal power

Solar MHD, Inc. is developing a patented new type of generating power-plant, which it describes as “a very promising new technology for electric power generation”. The technology is based on the principal of magnetohydrodynamics (MHD), which uses magnets to extract electricity from superheated charged plasmas.

The technology can produce electricity from any heat source, but operates optimally by using solar energy in order to reach peak efficiency and economy of scale. Waste heat generated by fossil fuel power stations and other sources may also be used, hence units can also be manufactured for use as topping-cycle enhancers in conventional power plants.

The company believes that its MHD systems will significantly reduce energy costs and provide an alternative, cost-competitive and environmentally benign alternative method of producing electricity. “A total MHD system represents a vastly more competitive way of generating electric power from any heat source and promises to be most efficient for commercialisation by using the essentially free energy of the sun,” declares the company in a recent press release.

MHD power generation is based on Faraday’s law of electromagnetic induction. When conductive fluid flows through a magnetic field that is perpendicular to the flowing direction, it will cut the magnetic lines and then the electromotive force is induced in the direction perpendicular to both magnetic field direction and flow direction. The optimum performance of a total MHD system is expected to have efficiencies of 60%.

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Solar MHD


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