The FlexForm Collector was designed from the start to achieve the lowest possible costs in concentrating and collecting solar thermal energy, with the reflector being a thin, specular reflective membrane suspended over prepared ground. A linear receiver placed above the reflector optimally absorbs the concentrated sunlight into a heat transfer fluid. Only the receiver moves to track the sun, while the reflector is stationary but changes shape under the influence of a partial vacuum to maintain optimum concentration – hence the name FlexForm.
Using well established technology, molten salt is pumped through the receiver tube, which has a black, low-emissivity surface, and is stored in insulated thermal storage tanks, from which it is taken to produce high pressure, high temperature steam to drive turbines with electric generators. With sufficiently large storage tanks, such a plant can operate up to 24 hours per day.
To produce hydrogen, an electrolysis machine is added to split water into hydrogen and oxygen from the solar power and an liquification plant is used to liquify the gaseous hydrogen for global transport by ship. Sufficient collection and thermal storage is used to run the plant around-the-clock so as to fully utilize the both the electrolysis and liquification equipment, thereby minimizing capital costs.