Brightsource Energy’s VP of Construction Management explained the ‘first flux’ as indicating that the facility can now start operations.
The first flux test was done by focusing adjustable motorized mirrors or heliostats onto the boiler, increasing temperature slowly to just under steam production temperature. The system of heliostats reflect the sunlight at the solar plant onto one black surface to cause it to increase in temperature.
This means that the sunlight hitting the whole area is focused onto one point, magnifying its effect. With more than 300,000 mirrors used in Ivanpah, the area being focused on would get extremely hot as a smaller focus area implies hotter temperatures.
The team reported that the next phase in the test, which would be carried out over the next month, would involve putting a full load of heliostats on the boiler using more flux so that the boiler starts generating steam.
The steam pressure would then be tested till a specific pressure point is reached, indicating that the system can handle steam blows which are supposed to blow out any remains in the pipes to prevent damage to the steam turbine when the facility becomes fully operational.
The Ivanpah plant is the property of Brightsource Energy, NRG Energy and Google and has been built by Bechtel Corp.