International Journal of Energy Research, Vol.44, No.5, 4015-4025, 2020
Comparative analysis of direct-absorption parabolic-trough solar collectors considering concentric nanofluid segmentation
Nanofluids have been actively used in direct-absorption solar collectors. In a direct-absorption parabolic-trough solar collector (DAPTSC) for medium-high temperature regime, the nanofluids used to be contained in a transparent glass receiver located at the focal line of a parabolic mirror so that the solar radiation is concentrated to the glass receiver and absorbed volumetrically inside the collector. In order to further increase the thermal efficiency of a DAPTSC, we propose to insert an extra glass tube inside the nanofluid so that the nanofluid is separated into two concentric segmentations (ie, an inner section and an outer section), and apply a nanofluid of lower concentration in the outer section while a nanofluid of a higher concentration in the inner section. The proposed idea is numerically tested on four pairs of DAPTSCs (the variants obtained depending on whether there is a vacuum envelope and whether there is a reflective semicylindrical coating on the receiver). The results show that at the same particle concentration parameter, the DAPTSCs with two concentric segmentations of nanofluids outperform those with one uniform nanofluid for all configurations considered in this work. For a transparent case without an envelope, this efficiency increase is as high as 12.5% point when the inlet temperature is 350 K. In addition, parametric studies are performed for this best configuration to evaluate the effect of absorption coefficient, mass flow rate, collector length, solar irradiance, and convection heat transfer coefficient on the collector performance.