In concentrating solar power plants, there is a strong incentive to increase the collection temperature and the overall exergy efficiency of the system. Some molten glass mixtures are attractive working fluids for high temperature solar thermal heat collection because optimized glass mixtures can be more stable, less-toxic, and less-corrosive at high temperatures (≥1000 °C). A specific phosphate glass mixture is considered in this study to explore its performance in a molten glass falling film central receiver design for collection of heat at conditions resulting in a mini-film with a thickness equal or less than 3mm. In our falling molten glass thin film, the phosphate glass flow is treated as a laminar, Newtonian and gravity-driven flow over a slightly inclined flat plate using an explicit finite difference scheme to evaluate its heat transfer performance for a direct absorption receiver concept. One of the main challenges of modeling transport in molten glass is the strong dependence of its viscosity on temperature. To incorporate this effect in our numerical analysis, a temperature-dependent viscosity model is used in the momentum equation to model the fluid behavior as it flows down the surface and is progressively heated. Using viscosity versus temperature data provided by Halotechnics, Inc. for the phosphate glass considered here, an exponential function is used to model the viscosity as it changes with temperature. Also, a variable film thickness model is implemented that adjusts to the viscosity variation with temperature. In order to avoid stability issues, the finite difference scheme is organized in terms of non-dimensional parameters that includes all important properties that govern the system. The results of our model indicate that thinning of the film as it flows over the heated surface enhances the heat transfer performance on the lower portion of the receiver system. The heat transfer coefficient increases instead of remaining constant (as normally expected for fully developed laminar flows) on the lower portion of the heated surface. Our analytical results further indicate that using a thin mini-film of molten glass for solar thermal heat collection provides high heat transfer performance.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.