Research Papers

Computational Fluid Dynamics Simulation and Experimental Study of Key Design Parameters of Solar Thermal Collectors

[+] Author and Article Information
James Allan

School of Engineering and Design,
Brunel University,
London UB8 3PH, UK;
Saffron House, 6-10 Kirby Street,
London EC1N 8EQ, UK
e-mail: James.p.allan14@gmail.com

Zahir Dehouche

School of Engineering and Design,
Brunel University,
London UB8 3PH, UK
e-mail: Zahir.dehouche@brunel.ac.uk

Sinisa Stankovice

Saffron House, 6-10 Kirby Street,
London EC1N 8EQ, UK
e-mail: sinisa.stankovic@chapmanbdsp.com

Alan Harries

33 Margaret Street,
London W1G 0JD, UK
e-mail: AHarries@savills.com

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Solar Energy Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF SOLAR ENERGY ENGINEERING: INCLUDING WIND ENERGY AND BUILDING ENERGY CONSERVATION. Manuscript received December 15, 2015; final manuscript received May 16, 2017; published online July 17, 2017. Assoc. Editor: Werner J. Platzer.

J. Sol. Energy Eng 139(5), 051001 (Jul 17, 2017) (8 pages) Paper No: SOL-15-1429; doi: 10.1115/1.4037090 History: Received December 15, 2015; Revised May 16, 2017

Numerical simulation enables the optimization of a solar collector without the expense of building prototypes. This study details an approach using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to simulate the performance of a solar thermal collector. Inputs to the simulation include; heat loss coefficient, irradiance, and ambient temperature. A simulated thermal efficiency was validated using experimental results by comparing the calculated heat removal factor. The validated methodology was then applied to five different inlet configurations of a header–riser collector. The most efficient designs had uniform flow through the risers. The worst performing configurations had low flow rates in the risers that led to high surface temperatures and poor thermal efficiency. The calculated heat removal factor differed by between 4.2% for the serpentine model and 12.1% for the header–riser. The discrepancies were attributed to differences in thermal contact between plate and tubes in the simulated and actual design.

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Fig. 1

Mesh cross section through the pipe of the serpentine model

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Fig. 2

Thermal efficiency curve of the simulation versus experimental results

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Fig. 3

Calculation of UL independently of FR

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Fig. 4

Comparison of the serpentine surface temperature distribution for the simulation (left) and from the experimental thermocouples (right)

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Fig. 5

Comparison of the header–rider surface temperature distribution for the simulation (left) and from the experimental thermocouples (right)

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Fig. 6

Comparison of single flow conditions for a parallel collector. Inlet temperature at 21 °C.

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Fig. 7

Comparison of dual flow systems. Inlet temperature at 21 °C.



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