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CFD analysis of a heat collector element in a solar parabolic trough collector
International Conference on Applications of Renewable and Sustainable Energy for Industry and Society, Hyderabad, India
November 2010
Sam Mathew, Ganesh Visavale, Vijay Mali
A numerical study of the performance of a solar Parabolic Trough Collector (PTC) has been done focusing on its receiver. The receiver consisting of a glass-shield enclosing a Heat Collector Element (HCE) with vacuum in the annular space has been subjected to seasonal and diurnal variations of solar radiation along with the concentrated heat flux reflected from the parabolic trough mirror for conditions at Pune, India. The HCE is modeled as a metallic tube with thermic fluid Therminol-VP1 TM flowing through it at low Reynolds number under thermally developing conditions with highly temperature dependent properties. The highly asymmetric nature of the physics for thermal and turbulent flow conditions make it imperative to consider a complete three dimensional domain for the conjugate heat transfer analysis. The conduction, convection and radiation heat transfer effects have been modeled with radiation restricted within the annular region using the S2S radiation model. The solar fluxes have been modeled using the Solar Load Model also accounting for the shadowing effects for semi-transparent and opaque surfaces. The pressure drop in the thermic fluid flow is comparatively uniform throughout the day during winter conditions while the fluid gets heated up 4 times more at noon compared to morning. The summer conditions exhibit a 2.5 times higher pressure drop at noon compared to the morning conditions. The comprehensive analysis is performed using the finite volume based CFD code of ANSYS FLUENT 12.1 and verifies the huge potential that PTC holds for high temperature applications in concentrated solar power plants.
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