Main content area

Heat transfer analysis and numerical simulation of a parabolic trough solar collector

Hachicha, A.A., Rodríguez, I., Capdevila, R., Oliva, A.
Applied energy 2013 v.111 pp. 581-592
energy balance, equations, heat transfer, mathematical models, power plants, solar collectors
Parabolic trough solar collector is the most proven industry-scale solar generation technology today available. The thermal performance of such devices is of major interest for optimising the solar field output and increase the efficiency of power plants. In this paper, a detailed numerical heat transfer model based on the finite volume method for these equipment is presented. In the model, the different elements of the receiver are discretised into several segments in both axial and azimuthal directions and energy balances are applied for each control volume. An optical model is also developed for calculating the non-uniform solar flux distribution around the receiver. This model is based on finite volume method and ray trace techniques and takes into account the finite size of the Sun. The solar heat flux is determined as a pre-processing task and coupled to the energy balance model as a boundary condition for the outer surface of the receiver. The set of algebraic equations are solved simultaneously using direct solvers. The model is thoroughly validated with results from the literature. First, the optical model is compared with known analytical solutions. After that, the performance of the overall model is tested against experimental measurements from Sandia National Laboratories and other un-irradiated receivers experiments. In all cases, results obtained shown a good agreement with experimental and analytical results.