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Sustainable Energy Technologies and Assessments 16 (2016) 5363

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Sustainable Energy Technologies and Assessments


journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/seta

Original Research Article

Design, simulation and optimization of a compound parabolic collector


E. Bellos , D. Korres, C. Tzivanidis, K.A. Antonopoulos
National Technical University of Athens, School of Mechanical Engineering, Thermal Department, Heroon Polytehniou 9, 157 73 Zografou, Athens, Greece

a r t i c l e

i n f o

Article history:
Received 12 November 2015
Revised 19 March 2016
Accepted 19 April 2016

Keywords:
CPC
Solidworks
Optical analysis
Thermal analysis
Collector design

a b s t r a c t
In this study, the optical and the thermal performance of a compound parabolic collector (CPC) with
evacuated tube are presented. In the first part, the optimization of the reflector geometry is given and
in the next part the thermal analysis of the solar collector is presented. The design of the reflector has
a great impact on the solar energy exploitation and for this reason is analyzed in detail. In the thermal
analysis of the collector, the two most usual thermal fluids, the pressurized water and typical thermal
oil, are compared. Pressurized water performs better and it is the most suitable working fluid for transferring the heat because of its properties; something that is analyzed in this study. Moreover, the optical
efficiency of the collector for various solar angles (longitude and transverse) is investigated and the heat
flux distribution over the absorber is given. In the last part, the temperature distribution over the absorber and inside the fluid are presented and a simple validation of the thermal model is also presented. The
model is designed in commercial software Solidworks and simulated in its flow simulation studio.
2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Introduction
The increasing cost of fossil fuels and of the electricity conjugated with the environmental problems caused by the CO2 emissions lead our society to turn its interest in renewable energy
sources. Solar energy utilization is a promising way to cover a great
part of worldwide energy demand by various ways. The conventional flat plate collectors (FPC) are widely used for domestic hot
water production and for low temperature applications
(3090 C). Concentrating collectors with high concentrating ratios
operate in high temperature levels (300400 C) [1] by giving suitable heat for electricity production in power plants. Parabolic
trough collectors (PTC), Fresnel collectors, central tower receivers
and parabolic dish Stirling engines [2,3] are the main solar
technologies for electricity production. For the intermediate
temperature range from 100 C to 300 C lessens number of solar
collector types are used while many industrial and residential
applications operate in these temperature limits. Applications as
desalination, oil extraction, low temperature electricity production, food production, methanol reforming and space cooling with
absorption technology [413] demand energy sources in the above
temperature range. The most suitable solar collector for these conditions is the compound parabolic collector (CPC) with evacuated
tube which is able to produce efficiently the processing heat. The
use of the evacuated tube is essential in order to overcome the
Corresponding author. Tel.: +30 210 772 2340.
E-mail address: bellose@central.ntua.gr (E. Bellos).
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.seta.2016.04.005
2213-1388/ 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

limit of 100 C and the conjugation with a concentrating trough


leads to higher levels.
CPC belongs to non-imaging concentrators with low concentrating ratio (15) [14,15] which exploits mainly the beam radiation and a part of diffuse radiation [8]. The small concentration
ratio recuses the tracking demand and many CPC systems are able
to operate without tracking which lead to lower cost [16,17]. More
specifically, a tracking system with the CPC axis in EastWest
orientation needs only a small seasonal adjustment in order to perform in a high way [15]. The geometry design of a CPC is related to
the application and every manufacturer takes into consideration
the operating condition in every case. Important point in the
design is the relation between concentration ratio and the acceptance angle which is inversely [14,15]. CPC invented by Winston
in 1960 in the U.S.A. and they presented in 1974 [18,19]. The first
applications were about hot water supply and many studies have
been made for improving their performance. Rabl in 1976 [20]
developed a mathematical model for the average number of rays
reflections in a CPC, something very important for the optical analysis. Studies for CPC with non-evacuated tubes for thermal performance have been made in order to predict the efficiency in various
operating conditions [21,22]. The use of evacuated tubes was first
analyzed in Argonne National Laboratory [23] in before 1980. Snail
in 1984 [24] analyzed an integrated stationary CPC with evacuated
tube. The final results proved an optical efficiency of 65% and a
thermal of 50%. Kim et al. [25] compared a stationary and a tracing
CPC and proved that the tracking mechanism improves the efficiency at about 15%. Because the tracking system is important

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E. Bellos et al. / Sustainable Energy Technologies and Assessments 16 (2016) 5363

Nomenclature
A
C
cp
D
f
G
H
hm
k
L
m
Num
Pr
p
Q
q
Re
T
UL
W

area, m2
concentration ratio
specific heat capacity, J/kg K
diameter, mm
focal length, mm
solar radiation, W/m2
parabola length, mm
mean convection coefficient, W/m2 K
thermal conductivity, W/m K
tube length, mm
mass flow rate, kg/s
mean Nusselt number
Prandtl number
absorber placement, mm
heat flux, W
down part placement, mm
Reynolds number
temperature, C
losses coefficient, W/m2 K
aperture length, mm

Greek symbols
b
peripheral absorber angle,
c
intercept factor
e
emittance
g
efficiency
h
solar incident angle,
hc
half-acceptance angle,
hL
longitude solar angle,
transverse solar angle,
h
l
dynamic viscosity, Pa s
q
reflectance

parameter, many other researches have been worked in this area.


Sallabery [26] analyzed how the tracking error influences on the
long-term performance of the system and reported that the yearly
energy loss is about 1%. A comparison of NS and EW orientated
CPCs presented by Kim [5]. Mathematical equations for solar
transversal projection angle, longitudinal projection angle are
developed by Wang [27] so as the tracking systems to be analyzed
more.
A lot of research has been conducted worldwide for the CPC
performance improvement. The use of asymmetric CPC, which
means two different parabolic shapes, has been studied from many
researchers. The main idea is the development of a non tracking
collector which performs well during the day due to the different
shape of the reflectors parabolas that allows the collector to operate efficiently for a great range of incident angles. Abu-Bakar [28]
studied a rotationally asymmetrical compound parabolic concentrator with a PV module, while Souliotis et al. [29] and Kessentini
[30,31] analyzed asymmetrical CPC for integrated solar systems
with one and two tanks inside the collector respectively. Moreover,
Singh et al. [32] made a very interesting review about integrated
collector solar water heaters stating the novelties that are able to
increase their efficiency. These systems include compound parabolic reflectors, phase change materials and special materials
(absorber and cover) in order to achieve high daily performance.
The idea of solar cooker examined by Harmin [33] where a booster
reflector was located in order to increase the optical efficiency in
the stationary mode operation. The use of lens in the trough in
order to increase the acceptance angle is an innovative idea which
is being examined in recent years. Su et al. [34] made a comparison

(sa)
u

transmittanceabsorptance product
Parabola angle parameter,

Subscripts and superscripts


a
aperture
abs
absorbed
am
ambient
b
beam
c
cover
ca
cover-air
ci
inner cover
co
outer cover
d
diffuse
e
exploited
fm
mean fluid
in
inlet
L
Local
loss
losses
m
mean
max
maximum
o
oil
opt
optical
out
outlet
r
receiver
ri
inner receiver
ro
outer receiver
s
solar
th
thermal
tube
receiver tube
u
useful
w
water

between lens-walled CPC, a common CPC and a dielectric solid CPC.


The results showed that lens-walled CPC has greater acceptance
angle, but it has lower optical efficiency in low incidence angles.
Guiqiang et al. [14] analyzed also a lens-walled CPC with a PV
module and resulted that the lens creates a uniform flux distribution in the PV-module which increases their efficiency.
In this study, a CPC with an evacuated tube is designed and simulated, while both an optical and thermal analysis has been conducted. Firstly, an optimization of its geometry is made in order
to maximize the optical efficiency. Also, a parametric analysis for
different solar angles (transversal and longitudinal) is given to calculate the optical losses for different cases. Moreover, a thermal
efficiency comparison between pressurized water and thermal oil
as working fluids is presented for different operating conditions.
Finally, a deeper analysis for the best working fluid, the pressurized
water, is presented. The simulation of the collector has been done
with commercial software Solidworks flow simulation. The innovative point of this study is the reflector design. The methodology
that is followed lead to an intercept factor close to 1, which is
the ideal modeling. Moreover, a comparison between pressurized
water and thermal oil is presented in order to determine the most
suitable fluid energetically.
Examined model
A compound parabolic collector with an evacuated tube is
examined in this study. The model was designed in Solidworks
by a parametrical way in order to optimize its geometry. This optimization gives the opportunity to improve the collector optical

E. Bellos et al. / Sustainable Energy Technologies and Assessments 16 (2016) 5363

55

Fig. 1. Geometric parameters of CPC design.

efficiency and to achieve optimum performance. CPC is created by


two parabolas and a third part which connects them. In the examined case, this part is created by two identical circular parts which
are tangent with the parabolas. This tangency is crucial because
leads to a smooth surface and as a consequence to a greater optical
efficiency. Fig. 1 shows the CPC scheme and the geometry parameters; the aperture, the height, the acceptance angle, the tube
diameters and etcetera. It is important to state that many parameters influence on the optical performance of the collector and the
optimization of all them leads to a very complex problem. For this
reason, some of these parameters were selected to be constant and
the optimization was applied on the rest of them. First of all, the
focal distance f and the angle u were selected to be 50 mm and
90 respectively, while the absorber diameter designed at
30 mm. The absorbers sketch is located in the symmetry axis of
the sketch plane and is tangent to the straight line AB which connects the two parabolas focus as well as to the one is defined from
C and B. These conditions lead all the rays which are incident vertically on the aperture plane and arrive at the parabolic surfaces to
reach to the absorber tube. The parameters were being optimized
are the aperture W and the distance q which is related to the down
part of the CPC. By knowing these parameters, the height H and the
acceptance half-angle hc are easily calculated.
The optical efficiency of the collector is the ratio of the absorbed
energy from the tube to the total solar energy entering to the aperture. This quantity can be easily calculated by a product of three
parameters, as Eq. (1) presents:

Q
gopt h abs q  ch  sa;
Qs

The mirror reflectivity q is the first optical loss and it is affected


by the surface quality. The next loss is expressed by the intercept
factor c which is depended on the incident angle of the radiation.
More specifically, this parameter is calculated as the ratio of the
solar irradiation that arrives at the tube to the reflected solar irradiation from the mirror. In addition, the reflector shape determines
the intercept factor, thus an optimization of the reflector geometry
is presented. Eq. (2) summarizes the above analysis:

Q tube
;
Qs  q

Qtube symbolizes the reaching radiation to the tube while (sa) is


the product of cover transmittance and receiver absorbance. In this
point, it is essential to state that the solar radiation, that CPC utilizes, is the beam radiation and a part of the diffuse radiation which
is depended on concentration ratio. For this study case, without
slope, Eq. (3) describes the exploited solar irradiation:

Ge Gb

Gd
;
C

The incident angle h is a very important parameter which


affects on the optical efficiency. However, extra information about
the relative position between collector and sun is necessary in
order to predict the exact path of the solar rays inside the collector.
For this reason, two other angles, the transverse and the longitude,
are being introduced to determine the exact position of the sun.
These solar angles are used in the optical analysis. Fig. 2 illustrates
these solar angles in a 3-D scheme.
Eq. (4) gives the incident angle (h) as a function of the transversal and the longitudinal angles:

tan2 h tan2 hL tan2 hT ;

Table 1 includes the basic dimensions of the collector and other


important parameters of the simulation.
Simulation in Solidworks environment and methodology
The examined model was designed in Solidworks and simulated
in its flow simulation studio. The first step in the simulation was
the determination of the physical problem. The boundary conditions, the materials of the parts and the properties of every material are the main parameters that have been determined. Moreover,
the solar radiation parameters are very important for this analysis
and emphasis is given to them.
The material selection is presented below:
The absorber is selected to be made of cooper.

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E. Bellos et al. / Sustainable Energy Technologies and Assessments 16 (2016) 5363

Fig. 2. Solar angles and 3-D CPC shape.

The reflector surface was set as symmetry surface. This choice


is necessary for the proper solar rays reflection.

Table 1
Geometry dimensions and simulation parameters.
Simulation parameter

Values

Geometry dimensions

Values

er
ec
q(sa)

0.1
0.88
0.80
1000 W/m2
0.01 kg/s
10 C
10 W/m2 C

p
L
f
Dri
Dro
Dci
Dco

17 m
1000 mm
50 mm
30 mm
34 mm
44 mm
48 mm

Ge
mw
Tam
hca

The cover is transparent to solar energy and is made of glass.


The reflector has a special mirror surface.
Lids have been placed in the inlet and in the outlet of the tube in
order to create a closed fluid volume. These lids were selected to
be as insulators. By this way, these materials are not taking
part in the thermal analysis.
The proper boundary conditions of the simulation are the
following:
The inlet mass flow rate in the internal face of the inlet lid.
The temperature in the internal face of the inlet lid.
The flow was selected to be fully developed in the inlet of the
tube.
The pressure of the outlet was determined in every case and is a
necessary boundary condition for the flow simulation inside the
tube.
The heat convection coefficient between the outer cover surface
and the environment.
The next important parameters that have to be taken into consideration are related with the radiation surfaces of the materials:
The absorber outer surface was selected to be selective.
The inner and outer cover surfaces have been selected to have
the proper radiation properties (emittance, transparency).

In addition, specific convergence goals were selected in order to


take the proper output from Solidworks and to lead the solver to
the desirable results. The main outputs of the simulation tool are
the following:
The fluid bulk temperature in the outlet.
The mean receiver temperature in its outer surface.
The mean cover temperature in its volume. For the cover, the
temperature difference between their surfaces is very low and
for this reason the mean volume temperature was selected as
output.
The thermal losses of the receiver which are equal to its radiation losses.
The total enthalpy difference between the outlet and the inlet of
the tube.
The mesh in the computational domain was created by Solidworks and emphasis was given in the fluid domain. For this reason,
extra refinement levels were added in fluid and in partial cells.
More specifically, in the mesh generation a standard mesh is created by selecting the basic nodes. The next step is a refinement
in fluid and partial cells in order to make the mesh better inside
the tube. The final mesh contains in every cross cross-section about
50,000 cells and the total mesh is consisted of about 4,000,000
cells. The choice of these values have made after a small sensitivity
analysis. Different refinement levels have been tested and the convergence criterion was the fluid outlet temperature.
The solar radiation was determined by its intensity and its
direction through the general settings of the program. It is essential
to state again that the optical analysis is made by Solidworks flow
simulation with setting the reflector surface as symmetry surface. The multiple reflections have been taken into account in this
model.
The model was simulated for various study cases. In every case,
some parameters were kept constant and others were varied. The

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E. Bellos et al. / Sustainable Energy Technologies and Assessments 16 (2016) 5363

temperature of the working fluid in the inlet and the solar radiation direction were the parameters, parametrically investigated.
Other parameters as the solar radiation intensity, the ambient temperature and the mass flow rate were kept constant. The energy
balances of the thermal model are presented in Appendix A with
more details.

1.0
0.9
0.8
0.7

Optical analysis

300 mm

0.6
200

In this paragraph the geometrical parameters which influence


on the optical efficiency of the collector are investigated in order
to predict the optimum values of the examined geometric parameters. The optimization of the intercept factor leads to the optimization of the optical efficiency which is the goal of this analysis.

250

300

350

400

450

500

W(mm)
Fig. 4. Intercept factor for different aperture values.

Table 2
Optimized geometry parameters.

Optimization of the reflector geometry


The objective of this section is to present the influence of the
geometric parameters (q and W) on the intercept factor. More
specifically, the shape of the down part of the CPC as well as the
aperture surface value is examined by changing the q and W values
respectively. The rest of the parameters were selected to be constant, while the solar rays are vertical to the aperture plane
(h = 0). Fig. 3 depicts the effect that distance q has on the intercept
factor, and as a consequence on the optical efficiency.
It is obvious that there is a great region of values which lead to
an optimum performance of the intercept factor. Especially, when
the parameter q takes values in the range of 1326 mm, all the
incident solar rays arrive at the tube, after the reflection on the
mirror. This distance was selected at 21 mm which is a value inside
the optimum region, in order to take a smooth surface. More
specifically, this value for the parameter q makes the two circular
parts to be tangent in their contact point, fact that makes them to
belong to the same cycle. The next parameter is the aperture length
W which is analyzed in Fig. 4.
For low aperture values the intercept factor is maximized
because all the reflected rays arrive to the receiver. After a critical
point, the intercept factor is decreasing something that affects
directly on the optical efficiency. This leads us to select the optimum value at the critical point which is the aperture of 300 mm
width. It is essential to mention that in the optimum case, the line
which connects the focus of each parabola to the opposite upper
point is tangent to the receiver (Fig. 1). This is according to the theory which demands this condition in order to determine the optimum aperture. Table 2 gives the final results of the optimization.
Heat flux distribution over the receiver
The next important issue about the optical analysis is the way
that the heat flux is being distributed in the receiver. The following
Figs. 5 and 6 show this distribution over the circular geometry of

Geometry parameters

Value

q
W
H
hC
Aa
C

21 m
300 mm
150 mm
53
0.3 m2
2.81
0.9921
0.7937

cmax
gopt,max

the receiver. The results were taken from Solidworks for the optimum case. In order to present the heat flux distribution with a
dimensionless way, we have to calculate the local concentration
ratio as Eq. (5) suggests below:

CL

dQ tube

q  Ge  dA

Fig. 5 shows the local concentration ratio in the peripheral line


of the absorber. This distribution is very important because there is
a great variation from point to point over the absorber.
This figure gives a strange profile for the heat flux and the reason is the complex geometry of the reflector. Moreover Fig. 6
depicts the heat flux distribution over the geometry, as it is taken
by Solidworks results.
From the above figures it is obvious that the maximum solar
irradiation is concentrated on the top of the absorber (b = 0). This
can be explained because this part collects beam radiation directly
from the sun and simultaneously a part of the reflected radiation
from the parabolas. The lower part of the receiver (b = 180) collects the lessen radiation, because only a small part of the reflector
sent rays on this region. Moreover, in the down part of the absorber
there are two symmetry regions (b = 145 and b = 215) where the
heat flux takes great values due to the fact that both the parabolas
and the down circular part of the mirror reflect the rays to these
two specific parts of the absorber.
Incident angle impact on intercept factor

1.00
0.95
0.90
0.85
0.80

q=21 mm

0.75
0

10

15

20

q (mm)

25

30

35

Fig. 3. Intercept factor for different shapes of CPC down part.

40

The next step in the optical analysis is the determination of


optical efficiency for different sun positions. In no concentrating
collectors, the incident angle is sufficient to similar calculations,
but in the concentrating collectors, a deeper analysis is needed.
For this reason, a more analytic determination of the sun position
uses two angles, in the longitudinal and in the transversal direction. This means that the position of the sun affects significantly
on the optical efficiency. Fig. 7 displays how the intercept factor
variation as a function of the longitudinal angle.
It is obvious that the optical loss is getting greater as the longitudinal angle increases. It is remarkable that, the loss for small

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E. Bellos et al. / Sustainable Energy Technologies and Assessments 16 (2016) 5363

6
5

CL

4
3
2
1
0
0

50

100

150

200

250

300

350

400

()
Fig. 5. Local concentration ratio distribution in peripheral of the absorber.

Fig. 6. Heat flux distribution over the absorber geometry, with red the maximum values and with blue the lower values. (For interpretation of the references to color in this
figure legend, the reader is referred to the web version of this article.)

1.0

1.0

0.8

0.8

0.6

0.6

0.4

0.4

0.2

0.2

0.0

20

40

60
L(

0.0

80

o)

10

20

30
T(

Fig. 7. Incident angle as a function of longitude solar angle.

40

50

60

Fig. 8. Incident angle as a function of the transverse solar angle.

values of the longitudinal angle is almost inconsiderable. The mathematical approximation of the above curve is presented in Eq. (6):

chL 0:9921  4:1  104  hL  1:92  104  h2L 7  107  h3L ;


6

It is important to state that above the value of 80, the efficiency


is extremely low and the system stops operating. The next
analyzed angle is the transversal one which is given in the Fig. 8.

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E. Bellos et al. / Sustainable Energy Technologies and Assessments 16 (2016) 5363

The next step after determining optical efficiency optimization


is the thermal performance investigation of the examined collector. Two different working fluids, pressurized water and thermal
oil, are tested in order to make a comparison between them. The
water is under a high pressure levels (35 bar) in order to be kept
in liquid phase for all study cases. The thermal oil operates in lower
pressure level because it is kept in liquid phase up to 300 C without needing a great pressure increase. The properties of these fluids
are taken by Solidworks library.
The thermal efficiency of the collector can be calculated as the
ratio of the useful energy to the solar energy entering in the collectors aperture:

The useful energy from the collector is calculated by the energy


balance in the working fluid volume, according to Eq. (9):

_  cp  T out  T in ;
Qu m

Thermal oil mass flow rate was determined according to Eq.


_  cp to be the same in
(10), in order the total heat capacity m
the two cases. By this assumption, if the two fluids absorb the same
amount of heat, then the same temperature increase is being
occurred. This will make the absorber to have similar temperature
in both cases, something that makes the comparison better.

m_ o m_w 

cp;w
;
cp;o

10

In other worlds, the above correction equalizes the different


into specific capacitance between the working fluids. For typical
values of specific thermal capacities, the mass flow rate of thermal
oil is 0.0212 kg/s. More specifically, the specific thermal capacity
was selected at 4180 kJ/kg K for water and at 1972 kJ/kg K for thermal oil. Another important parameter is the overall heat loss coefficient which can be calculated by the Eq. (11):

Q Loss
UL
;
Ar  T r  T am

0.68

Water

0.64

Thermal oil

Thermal analysis for water and thermal oil as working fluids

Qu
;
Qs

0.72

0.60

Moreover, Fig. 8 shows that after 53 no solar rays arrive on the


receiver, an expected result, since the half-acceptance angle is also
53.

gth

0.76

0.05

0.1

0.15

0.2

Fig. 9. Efficiency curve for different operating conditions.

It is obvious from Fig. 9 that pressurized water performs better


in all cases while the difference on the efficiency is getting greater
as the inlet temperature increases. This happens due to the difference in the heat losses and as a consequence in the overall heat loss
coefficient between the two fluids, as it is depicted in Fig. 10. This
coefficient is calculated according Eq. (11) by using the total thermal losses. Solidworks outputs include these thermal losses and
this makes the calculations easier.
Fig. 10 shows that the heat loss coefficient (UL) takes greater
values in the thermal oil case, fact that leads to greater overall
losses and to low thermal efficiency. Furthermore, the difference
between the two heat loss coefficients is getting greater as the inlet
fluid temperature increases something that explains the divergence in the efficiency curves for the respective operating conditions. The difference in this coefficient is explained by the
difference in the receiver temperature, which is depicted in
Fig. 11. At this point is essential to state that a warmer absorber
lead to higher heat losses and this has to been taken into consideration in the presented analysis. Fig. 11 proves that the absorber
temperature is greater when the collector operates with thermal
oil.
The difference in absorber temperature seems to be constant
between the pressurized water and thermal oil case (Fig. 11). However, the difference in the heat loss coefficient (Fig. 10) is getting
greater for higher fluid temperature levels. This is a result of the
dependence between these parameters. This coefficient is
depended on the receiver temperature in the fourth power,
because only radiation losses exist inside the evacuated tube, fact
that explains the non-linear behavior of Fig. 10.
In this point, the reason for the greater receiver temperature in
the thermal oil case will be presented. A deeper analysis of the heat
transfer between tube and working fluid is given below. Emphasis
is given in the heat transfer coefficient inside the tube. Eq. (12)
gives the mean Nusselt number for laminar flow [35] and
Eq. (13) the heat convection coefficient:

2.1

Thermal oil

1.8

11

Thermal comparison of working fluids

0.25

(Tin-Tam)/Ge

Water

1.5

UL (W/m2K)



2
hT
hT
 25:96
15:37 
100
100

3

4

5
hT
hT
hT

22:5 
 7:2 
;
100
100
100

chT 0:9921  5:46 

0.80

th

It is obvious that the intercept factor decreases abruptly for low


values of the transversal angle something that makes this parameter crucial for the collector performance. A tracking system is used
in many applications in order to minimize the transversal angle
and to achieve greater optical efficiency. The next equation is the
approximation of the Fig. 8 curve:

1.2
0.9
0.6

In this section a comparison between the two working fluids is


presented. Fig. 9 illustrates the thermal efficiency of the examined
collector for a range of operating conditions. The ambient temperature and the solar irradiation were selected to be 10 C and
1000 W/m2 respectively. The only parameter that changes is the
water inlet temperature which is ranged from 10 C to 230 C.

0.3
0
0

0.05

0.1

0.15

0.2

(Tin-Tam)/Ge
Fig. 10. Heat loss coefficient for different operating conditions.

0.25

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E. Bellos et al. / Sustainable Energy Technologies and Assessments 16 (2016) 5363


300

Thermal oil
Water

250

Re

Tr (oC)

200

Pr

150
100
50
0
0

0.05

0.1

0.15

0.2

0.25

(Tin-Tam)/Ge
Fig. 11. Receivers mean temperature for different operating conditions.

4m

p  Dri  l
l  cp
k

Fluid

h (W/
m2 K)

Nu

Re

Pr

k (W/
m K)

l (Pa s)

cp (J/
kg K)

Water
Thermal
oil

150
62

6.7
11.0

1388
73

1.9
144

0.67
0.17

0.00031
0.01240

4180
1972

14
15

Table 3 includes the calculated parameters for inlet temperature equal to 90 C which is an intermediate operating temperature. It is obvious that the heat transfer coefficient is lower for
the thermal oil case, something that is explained by the great difference in the dynamic viscosity and the thermal conductivity of
thermal oil.
Eq. (16) describes the correlation between the heat convection
coefficient and the absorber temperature:

T r T fm

Table 3
Mean heat convection coefficient and other properties for working fluid.

Qu
;
Ari  hm

16

This equation suggests that for a constant useful energy


amount, a lower heat transfer coefficient leads to a greater absorber temperature. This result makes the heat transfer fluid with
higher convection coefficients to be more suitable in thermal solar
applications.
Additional results for operation with pressurized water

108.3

( C)

108.2

()

108.1

absorber

108.0
107.9
107.8
0

50

100

150

200

250

300

350

400

()
Fig. 12. Peripheral temperature distribution in the absorber.



0:0668  DLri  Re  Pr
Num 3:66

2=3 ;
1 0:04  DLri  Re  Pr

hm

Num  k
;
Dri

12

13

Eqs. (14) and (15) show the definition of Reynolds and Prandtl
number respectively:

In this section, additional figures and diagrams are given for


operation pressurized water; the optimum working fluid according
to the previous analysis. The temperature of the fluid in the inlet is
equal to 90 C for Figs. 1214. This temperature level is an intermediate and representative value for the collector operation. Firstly,
the peripheral temperature of the absorber in the middle of the
tube is given in Fig. 12. Fig. 13 shows the temperature distribution
(Fig. 13a) and the distribution of the heat losses (Fig. 13b) over the
outer tube surface.
It is obvious from Fig. 12, that the maximum temperature
appears on the top of the tube where the maximum heat flux is
observed (Figs. 5 and 6). Moreover, it is essential to state that the
variation of the temperature distribution is only 0.4 C. This result
proves that the absorber tube temperature distribution can be
approximately assumed as isothermal small rings.
Fig. 13a shows that the temperature of the tube increases in the
flow direction because the fluid is getting warmer from the inlet to
the outlet. In Fig. 13b, the thermal losses have a respective to the
temperature distribution due to their dependency, as it was
referred above.
Fig. 14 depicts the water temperature distribution in the outlet
cross-section of the tube. The maximum temperature is observed
close to tube walls and especially in the upper and in the lower
part of them. In the center core, the temperature is lower because
the heat did not manage to reach this part of the flow. The heat

Fig. 13. (a) Absorber temperature distribution, (b) thermal losses distribution over the absorber (the red color illustrates the greater values and the blue the lower values).
(For interpretation of the references to color in this figure legend, the reader is referred to the web version of this article.)

E. Bellos et al. / Sustainable Energy Technologies and Assessments 16 (2016) 5363

61

Fig. 14. Water temperature distribution in the outlet cross section.

Fig. 15. Flow chart of the developed numerical model.

conductivity is the factor that determines the temperature distribution on the radial direction of the fluid cross section.
Model validation
In the final part of this study, a simple validation of the developed model is presented. A simple 1-D numerical model written
in the FORTRAN programming language was developed for validating the simulation results. The validation is made for pressurized
water because this is the working fluid with the better efficiency.
The main developed model is based on the energy balance in the

absorber in order to determine the useful energy and the heat


losses [36]. The receiver and the cover are supposed to have uniform temperature levels in every case which is a good assumption;
because the examined tube is short and the temperature variation
along the tube is low. Fig. 15 illustrates the basic points the developed numerical model.
Fig. 16 shows the validation results between model in Solidworks and model in FORTRAN. More specifically, the thermal efficiency, the heat loss coefficient, the receiver and the cover
temperature are compared for all the range of operating conditions. It is obvious that the two models give similar results which

62

E. Bellos et al. / Sustainable Energy Technologies and Assessments 16 (2016) 5363

Fig. 16. Validation results (a) thermal efficiency (b) heat loss coefficient (c) receiver temperature (d) cover temperature.

are close to each other. These results validate the developed model
in Solidworks.

the peripheral temperature distribution over the absorber has a


variation of about 0.4 K; a small variation which leads to the
assumption of isothermal tube locally.

Conclusions
Acknowledgments
In this study a detailed analysis of a CPC collector is presented.
First of all, the design of this collector is analyzed in order to optimize its geometry. The goal of the optimization is the maximization of the intercept factor for zero incident angle. The results
showed that the optimum aperture width is about 300 mm with
a focal distance of 50 mm and a receiver diameter of 34 mm. The
shape of the down part has not a significant role in the collector
efficiency and for this reason its design is not of great interest.
The final reflector geometry is optimum because all the reflected
rays are delivered to the receiver which means ideal design. Moreover, the collector tested for various incident angles at the longitude and in the transverse direction, and the results show that
the transversal angle variation causes a significant reduction in
the optical efficiency. This finding indicates the necessity of tracking this collector in order to minimize the incident angle and
mainly the transversal incident angle.
The next part of this study is the thermal analysis of the collector in order to predict the efficiency for different operating conditions. Two different working fluids are compared in order to
predict the most appropriate as a heat transfer fluid. Pressurized
water performed better than thermal oil by giving greater efficiency in the whole operating range. The reason for the waters
better performance is the different thermal properties of it; conductivity and dynamic viscosity. More specifically, the greater values of these properties in pressurized water increase the heat
convection coefficient making water the most suitable working
fluid. In the last part of this study, the temperature distribution
in the absorber and in the fluid are presented for operation with
pressurized water. According to the presented figures, the absorber
is getting warmer from the inlet to the outlet and the heat losses
have a similar distribution. Also, the water temperature in the outlet cross section is characterized by isothermal rings, with the warmer to be closer to the tube. Another important conclusion is that

The first author would like to thank the Onassis Foundation for
its financial support.
Appendix A
The basic equations which describe the general energy balances
are given in this appendix. The energy potential of the solar energy
is given by Eq. (A.1) and the energy delivered to the absorber by Eq.
(A.2):

Q S Aa  Ge ;

A:1

Q abs Q S  q  c  sa;

A:2

The useful energy that fluid absorbs is calculated by the energy


balance in its volume according Eq. (A.3):

Q u m  cp  T out  T in ;

A:3

The energy balance in the absorber is given in Eq. (A.4). From


this equation is able the direct determination of heat losses:

Q loss Q abs  Q u ;

A:4

Eqs. (A.5)(A.7) are three different ways to express the heat


losses. These equations lead to the receiver temperature, cover
temperature and heat loss coefficient:

Q loss U L  Aro  T r  T am ;
Q loss

r  Aro  T 4r  T 4c
1

er

1ecec  AAroci

Q loss Aco  hca  T c  T am ec  Aco  r  T 4c  T 4am ;

A:5
A:6
A:7

E. Bellos et al. / Sustainable Energy Technologies and Assessments 16 (2016) 5363

The next equation that connects the useful heat and the receiver
temperature:

Q u Ari  hm  T r  T fm ;

A:8

The mean fluid temperature (Tfm) is approximately the average


of inlet and outlet temperature. The heat transfer coefficient
between absorber and fluid can be calculated by Eq. (A.9) for laminar flow:

hm

"
#
k
0:0668  Re  Pr  Dri =L
:
 3:66
Dri
1 0:04  Re  Pr  Dri =L2=3

A:9

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