June 4, 2010 | last updated May 29, 2012 7:58 pm

Pratt's Rocketdyne gets $10.2M solar pact

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne has won a $10.2 million federal energy contract to refine its concept for generating affordable electricity using solar power.

The U.S. Department of Energy wants Pratt Rocketdyne apply its technology for a device called a concentrated solar power tower.

Rocketdyne's prototype design uses thousands of mirrors, or heliostats, mounted on a tower the height of New York's Empire State Building concentrate the suns' energy onto a receiver that heats molten salt within the 600-foot tower to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. That heat drives a steam turbine to create electricity.

Rocketdyne, based in Canoga Park, Calif., says its concept optimizes efficiency and performance, better absorbs energy, incorporates a new storage system, and develops a higher-performance, lower cost second-generation heliostat system.

Pratt & Whitney is a division of United Technologies Corp. in Hartford.

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