Nate Schuknecht


Mr. Schuknecht joined SkyFuel, Inc. in 2011 and directs the research and development of the SkyTrough® parabolic trough concentrator. His career has focused on robotic optical systems and concentrating solar technologies. He has been engaged in the development and manufacturing of both linear Fresnel and parabolic trough solar concentrators, with designs that leverage component cost with a specific emphasis on design for energy storage and high temperature molten salt. He managed the research and development effort on SkyFuel’s molten salt demonstration loop and SkyTrough®DSP concentrator, with successful operation and freeze recovery demonstrated. In addition to his extensive experience in research and development, he functions in manufacturing system design, solar field site optimization, thermal energy storage, solar field commissioning, performance testing, and installation. Prior to joining SkyFuel, Mr. Schuknecht designed high-speed laser optical systems and efficiency upgrade systems for commercial buildings.

Mr. Schuknecht’s direct experience with molten salt includes the development, testing, and deployment of molten salt fluid handling equipment, storage and melting tanks, preheat techniques, pumps, and draining procedures for SkyFuel’s SkyTroughDSP demonstration loop. He has performed fundamental research into binary and ternary salt corrosion mechanisms, flexible joints, flow properties, and melting protocols. The success of the SkyTroughDSP demonstration loop provided SkyFuel with the first molten salt parabolic trough loop in the United States.

In addition to Mr. Schuknecht’s employment at SkyFuel, he is an active member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) PTC 52: Performance Test Code for Concentrating Solar Power, and a member of the ASME Emerging Technology Task Force on Thermal Energy Storage. He holds a BS in mechanical engineering from Gonzaga University.