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Numerical simulation of wind flow around a parabolic trough solar collector

Hachicha, A.A., Rodríguez, I., Castro, J., Oliva, A.
Applied energy 2013 v.107 pp. 426-437
Reynolds number, heat transfer, heat transfer coefficient, mathematical models, power plants, solar collectors, solar energy, wind speed, wind tunnels
The use of parabolic trough solar technology in solar power plants has been increased in recent years. Such devices are located in open terrain and can be the subject of strong winds. As a result, the stability of these devices to track accurately the sun and the convection heat transfer from the receiver tube could be affected. In this paper, a detailed numerical aerodynamic and heat transfer model based on Large Eddy Simulations (LES) modelling for these equipments is presented. First, the model is verified on a circular cylinder in a cross-flow. The drag forces and the heat transfer coefficients are then validated with available experimental measurements. After that, simulations are performed on an Eurotrough solar collector to study the fluid flow and heat transfer around the solar collector and its receiver. Computations are carried out for a Reynolds number of ReW=3.6×10⁵ (based on the aperture) and for various pitch angles (θ=0°, 45°, 90°, 135°, 180°, 270°). The aerodynamic coefficients are calculated around the solar collector and validated with measurements performed in wind tunnel tests. Instantaneous velocity field is also studied and compared to aerodynamic coefficients for different pitch angles. The time-averaged flow is characterised by the formation of several recirculation regions around the solar collector and the receiver tube depending on the pitch angle. The study also presents a comparative study of the heat transfer coefficients around the heat collector element with the circular cylinder in a cross-flow and the effect of the pitch angle on the Nusselt number.