MATS Project

Concepts & Objectives

MATS technology is based on linear parabolic mirrors that concentrate the solar radiation to generate heat at high temperatures. Solar receiver tubes absorb the concentrated solar radiation and the heat is transferred to a heat transfer fluid.

MATS solar collector

MATS solar receiver tubes on linear parabolic collectors

The innovative solar technology proposed in MATS makes use of molten salts (sodium and potassium nitrates) as the heat transfer fluid. This fluid has several positive environmental, safety and technical features, including the possibility to operate at low pressures and reach temperatures as high as 550°C.

MATS solar field with molten salts heat transfer fluid distribution system

An innovative heat storage system integrated with a steam generator detaches the fluctuating solar radiation from the power cycle. A gas heater further guarantees stable heat supply, using natural gas or a biomass-derived gas for a fully renewable energy conversion.

Single-tank solar heat storage system integrated with steam generator in MATS plant

The solar collectors, back-up heater and the heat storage system were individually developed with prototypes tested at ENEA (Italy). Then, the three basic components were combined in such a way as to facilitate plant operation and flexibility, especially for distributed generation.
This combined system allows controlled production of super-heated steam, which drives a steam cycle for electrical power generation. Moreover, a co-generative power cycle is designed with a Multi-Effect water Desalinator (MED) applied as the steam condenser unit, to recover the residual heat from the exhaust steam. Fresh desalinated water represents a high value by-product, especially in CSP plants built in desert areas with water shortage. Heating and cooling of buildings represent another co-generation option.

Co-generative power block with desalination unit in MATS plant

In conclusion, the MATS plant demonstrates the high flexibility of the technology to integrate solar energy in energy networks and to meet different user demand. Solar energy can be supplied “on demand” (24 h/7, combined with gas fuel back-up) and co-generative power cycles can be applied.


Casaccia Research Centre, UTRINN-STD,
via Anguillarese 301 I-00123


  • Egypt
  • France
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • United Kingdom