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A MCRT and FVM Coupled with Simulation Method

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Renewable Energy

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

A MCRT and FVM coupled simulation method for energy conversion process

in parabolic trough solar collector

Ya-Ling He*, Jie Xiao, Ze-Dong Cheng, Yu-Bing Tao

State Key Laboratory of Multiphase Flow in Power Engineering, School of Energy and Power Engineering, Xi’an Jiaotong University, Xi’an, Shaanxi 710049, PR China

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: A coupled simulation method based on Monte Carlo Ray Trace (MCRT) and Finite Volume Method (FVM)

Received 14 September 2009 is established to solve the complex coupled heat transfer problem of radiation, heat conduction and

Accepted 25 July 2010 convection in parabolic trough solar collector system. A coupled grid checking method is established to

Available online 17 September 2010

guarantee the consistency between the two methods and the validations to the coupled simulation

model were performed. Firstly, the heat ﬂux distribution on the collector tube surface was investigated to

Keywords:

validate the MCRT method. The heat ﬂux distribution curve could be divided into 4 parts: shadow effect

Monte Carlo Ray Trace

area, heat ﬂux increasing area, heat ﬂux reducing area and direct radiation area. The heat ﬂux distri-

Finite Volume Method

Coupling heat transfer

bution on the outer surface of absorber tube was heterogeneous in circle direction but uniform in axial

Parabolic trough collectors direction. Then, the heat transfer and ﬂuid ﬂow performance in the LS-2 Solar Collector tube was

investigated to validate the coupled simulation model. The outlet temperatures of the absorber tube

predicted by the coupled simulation model were compared with the experimental data. The absolute

errors are in the range of 1.5e3.7 C, and the average relative error is less than 2%, which demonstrates

the reliability of the coupled method established in this paper. At last, the concentrating characteristics of

the parabolic trough collectors (PTCs) were analyzed by the coupled method, the effects of different

geometric concentration ratios (GCs) and different rim angles were examined. The results show the two

variables affect the heat ﬂux distribution. With GC increasing, the heat ﬂux distributions become gentler,

the angle span of reducing area become larger and the shadow effect of absorber tube become weaker.

And with the rim angle rising, the maximum value of heat ﬂux become lower, and the curve moves

towards the direction 4 ¼ 90 . But the temperature rising only augments with GC increasing and the

effect of rim angle on heat transfer process could be neglected, when it is larger than 15 . If the rim angle

is small, such as qrim ¼ 15 , lots of rays are reﬂected by glass cover, and the temperature rising is much

lower.

Ó 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

method to investigate the heat ﬂux distribution characteristics of

The photo-thermal conversion process of parabolic trough solar the parabolic solar concentrators. Evens [2] and Harris et al. [3] both

thermal power generation system can be divided into the following developed integral relationships for evaluating the intensity

sections: solar radiation is collected by the parabolic trough distribution on the ﬂat absorbers used with cylindrical parabolic

collectors (PTCs), then is reﬂected and focused to the outer surface solar concentrators. Considering the inﬂuence of the ﬁnite size of

of the absorber tube where the radiant energy is converted into the sun, the “cone optics” approach was used [2]. Then, Jeter [4,5]

thermal energy. Thermal energy will be conducted to the inner established a ﬁrst integral of the concentrated radiant ﬂux

surface of the absorber tube and be transferred by the heat transfer density for trough concentrators. Those works had given out

ﬂuid inside the absorber tube with forced convection heat transfer concentrating characteristics of different parabolic solar concen-

[1]. This is a coupled heat transfer problem with complex geometry trators. But all those integral approaches needed special integration

condition. routine, meanwhile, the optical parameters and geometrical

properties of collectors also couldn’t be changed conveniently.

Monte Carlo Ray Trace (MCRT) method is a very ﬂexible method,

which can be used to solve this coupled problem. The principles of

* Corresponding author. Tel.: þ86 29 8266 3300; fax: þ86 29 8266 7745. the MCRT method applied to the radiative heat transfer can be

E-mail address: yalinghe@mail.xjtu.edu.cn (Y.-L. He). found from textbooks [6]. This method was used for simulating the

0960-1481/$ e see front matter Ó 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

doi:10.1016/j.renene.2010.07.017

Y.-L. He et al. / Renewable Energy 36 (2011) 976e985 977

and solar chemical reactor [9], etc.

There are also many published studies about the heat transfer

process between the absorber tube wall and working ﬂuid. A

detailed thermal model was established to calculate the heat loss

of trough collector [10], in which the solar radiation was regarded as

a constant and the inﬂuence of nonlinearity on heat loss was

also ignored. Nowadays, this model is also used to analyse the

thermal efﬁciency of trough system [11]. In order to analyse the

two-phase ﬂow region in direct steam generation (DSG), some 2D

simulation methods were also established to study the temperature

distribution along the cross-section of absorber tube. In those

methods, the nonlinearity of heat ﬂux was considered, but simpli-

ﬁed distribution assumptions were used to simplify the heat ﬂux

distribution around the tube wall. For example, Martinez et al. used

a sectional heat ﬂuxes as boundary conditions of Finite-Difference

Method (FDM) to solve energy equations [12]. Eck et al. used the

Finite-Element Method (FEM) program ANSYS with a typical ﬂux

Fig. 1. Schematic of a parabolic trough collector.

distribution boundary to calculate the temperature proﬁle for the

LS-3 type collector [13], then they chose a Gaussian distribution

assumption as the ﬂux distribution boundary for Finite-Element

2.2. Details of MCRT

Method (FEM) analysis and a rectangular distribution assumption

as the ﬂux distribution boundary for a simpliﬁed analytical

The ﬂowchart for MCRT is shown in Fig. 3. The diamond boxes

solution [14].

can be considered as judgments for position relation of straight and

Up to now, few papers have focused on the ﬂow and heat

curve, such as judgments of “Shadowed region by absorber”,

transfer characteristics of working ﬂuid inside the absorber tube

“Reﬂected region by parabola”, “Hit glass tube” or “Hit absorber

under the realistic non-uniform heat ﬂux distribution boundary

tube”. If those judgments are “YES”, the hitting locations are

conditions. In this paper, the realistic non-uniform heat ﬂux

determined, such as processes of “Count hitting position on glass

distribution is used as the boundary condition to simulate the heat

tube and absorber tube”. All those judgments and processes are

transfer process inside the absorber tube, and the characteristics

easy events as solving quadratic equations. So details of those boxes

analysis under the inﬂuence of the non-uniform heat ﬂux distri-

are not shown in following sections. However, in several processes,

bution was made. For simulation, a coupled numerical method of

new trace directions should be decided, such as “Initialize photon

MCRT and FVM was established to obtain the 3D ﬂow ﬁelds and

distribution”, “Reﬂect” and “Transmit”. Monte Carlo Method is used

temperature distribution for the coupled heat transfer problem in

in those sections which will be detailed in following sections. Other

absorber tube with the complexity of non-uniform heat ﬂux

processes which are statistic events, such as “Absorb photon”,

boundary condition. In order to validate the coupled simulation

“Count photon distribution” and “Count heat ﬂux distribution”, are

method, the concentrating characteristics and heat transfer in

also discussed in following sections.

absorber tube of the LS-2 Solar Collector were simulated and

compared with test data [15]. Then the model was used to

2.2.1. Initialize photon distribution

simulate the inﬂuence of the nonlinear heat ﬂux distribution on

Initializing photon distribution is used to decide the location of

overall heat transfer performance. The effects of different

photon hitting the parabola, the direction of photon tracing and the

geometric concentration ratios and rim angles are also discussed

energy weight carried by each photon packet. The location is

in this paper.

described by the Cartesian coordinates (x,y,z) and the direction is

described by the directional cosines (ux,uy,uz) [16]. The location

2. Simulation method

where photon hits the parabola is speciﬁed as follows:

a sheet of reﬂective material into a parabolic shape surface. A

receiver tube is placed along the focal line of the parabolic reﬂective

collector. The receiver tube usually includes an inner absorber tube

and a glass cover. The glass cover is used for reducing heat loss; as

well as the annular space between the inner tube and the glass

cover is vacuumed, which helps to decrease the convection heat

loss [1].

Two coordinate systems are used in this paper. The Cartesian

coordinate system is used for tracing photon movements in

MCRT code and solving correlated equations in FLUENT, as shown

in Fig. 1. In the cross-section of absorber tube, a cylindrical

coordinate system is used to count the photon distribution and

heat ﬂux distribution (Fig. 2). Because the absorber tube is

located along the focal line and the parabola is symmetric, the

photon and heat ﬂux distribution is symmetric along the z axis.

So the range of circle angle 4 is from 90 to 90 . Fig. 2. The cylindrical coordinate system.

978 Y.-L. He et al. / Renewable Energy 36 (2011) 976e985

Initialize photon The energy weight, w, is also initialized, which carried by each

distribution photon packet. It is a non-dimensional energy parameter and set

the value as w ¼ 1.

Y

Shadowed by absorber?

Here, each photon packet is initially assigned a weight, w. In this

paper, the weight is set as w ¼ 1.

N

N

2.2.2. Reﬂection

Reflected by parabola? Two steps are established to complete the reﬂection process.

Y First, judge whether the photon is reﬂected. Second, determine the

Reflect new photon trace direction after reﬂection.

In ﬁrst step, another random number, x5, is generated; and then

N the random number is compared with the reﬂectivity of parabolic

Hit glass tube?

collector, Rc. If x5 Rc, the photon is reﬂected by parabolic trough; if

Y not, the photon will not survive.

N The theory of reﬂect was shown in Ref. [7]. A specular reﬂection

Transmit? hypothesis is used in this paper. The directional cosines are speci-

Y ﬁed as follows:

Count hitting position 8 0

on glass tube >

> u ¼ ux " #," !#

> x

>

>

>

> 0 0 y0 y0 2

< uy ¼ uy y sinðqÞsinð4Þ þ cosðqÞ f 1þ 2

Count new moving 2f 4f

direction (5)

>

> " #, !

>

> 0 y0 2

>

> u0 ¼ uz þ 2 y sinðqÞsinð4Þ þ cosðqÞ

N >

: z 1 þ

Hit absorber tube? 2f 4f 2

Y

on absorber tube After the photon hitting the glass tube, whether the photon

transmits across the glass tube should be decided. The glass

Absorb photon property and the photon tracing direction both affect the trans-

mission. The effect of glass property on transmission is the same as

N it to the reﬂection. A random number, x6, is used to compare with

Last photon?

the transmittance of glass, Tg. If x6 Tg, the photon transmits across

Y the glass. While, according to Snell’s law, the probability of a photon

Count photon transmission is related to the angle of incidence, ai and the

distribution

refractive indices of the media that the photon is incident from, ni

and transmitted to, nt. Details are shown in Ref. [16].

Count heat flux

distribution Because the thickness of glass is ignored, the position of the

photon leaving the glass tube could be considered to be the same

position where it hits the glass, and the direction cosines also do

End

not change.

2.2.4. Photon statistics

8 An array p[ie] is used to count the distribution of photon on the

< x0 ¼ x0 þ x1 $xL

outer surface of the absorber tube. Where ie is in the range:

y0 ¼ y0 þ x2 $yL (1)

: 0 1 ie Ne, and Ne is the number of elements. The grid used in this

z ¼ z0 þ y2 =ð4f Þ

paper is generated by Gambit software. The mesh information, such

In this paper, x is used as random numbers generated by as the coordinate values of each node and the ordinal of nodes,

computer, which is uniformly distributed between the intervals could be obtained, by which the elements could be deﬁned. If the

(0,1). Position (x0,y0,z0) is initialized to (0,(yL/2),f). A deﬂection photon hit the absorber tube at point p, the position can be

angle q (0 q <p) and an azimuth angle f (0 f < 2p) are used to determined by an array m(x00 ,y00,z00 ). Then judge which element the

decide the directional cosines: photon deposits in by counting areas. For example, one element

8 composed by 4 nodes, each node could marked as A, B, C and D.

< ux ¼ sinðqÞcosðfÞ Connection the conjoint 2 points and the point p can form a triangl..

u ¼ sinðqÞsinðfÞ (2)

: y

uz ¼ cosðqÞ Table 1

Parameters of SEGS LS-2 PTCs [15].

The azimuth angle is speciﬁed as follows:

Parameter Value

f ¼ 2px3 (3) Parabolic trough reﬂector xL yL 7.8 m 5 m

f 1.84 m

Because the sun radiations are not parallel exactly, deﬂection Rc 0.93

0

angle q should be chosen in an optic cone. Here, qsun ¼ 16 is used to Receiver rg 0.0575 m

represent the ﬁnite size of the sun. So the angle q is speciﬁed as: ra 0.0350 m

Tg 0.95

qﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃ aa 0.96

q ¼ arcsin sin q2sun $x4 (4) e 0.002 m

Y.-L. He et al. / Renewable Energy 36 (2011) 976e985 979

Then plus the triangle areas of ABP, BCP, CDP and DAP together, and v v mt vk

marked as S0i . Meanwhile, the area of each element could be count ðrui kÞ ¼ mþ þ Gk r3 (8)

vxi vxi sk vxi

out as Si. The value of S0i and Si are compared. If jS0i Si j s, it could

be considered that the photon deposits in this element. s is an

inﬁnitesimal, which has same dimension as Si. In this paper, the

value of s is set as s ¼ 5 107. Then the value of p[ie] is renewed as:

v v mt v3 3

ðrui 3Þ ¼ mþ þ ðc1 Gk c2 r3Þ (9)

vxi vxi s3 vxi k

p½ie )p½ie þ w$aa (6)

The turbulent viscosity mt is speciﬁed:

k2

2.2.5. Heat ﬂux distribution mt ¼ Cm r (10)

The photon distribution, p[ie], is dimensionless. It only presents 3

the distribution characteristic of photon, but not the exact value of

heat ﬂux. The heat ﬂux distribution is speciﬁed as q[ie]: Gk denotes the production rate of k, which is speciﬁed as:

!

qsun $xL yL vu vui vuj

q½ie ¼ p½ie $ (7) Gk ¼ mt i þ (11)

Nr Si vxj vxj vxi

2.3. Coupled method of MCRT and FVM The governing equations for continuity, momentum and energy

can be expressed as follows:

2.3.1. Governing equations for FVM

The ﬂuid ﬂow is turbulent and in steady state at test conditions Continuity equation:

shown in Table 1. The governing equations include the continuity,

momentum, energy equations and the standard ke3 two-equation v

ðrui Þ ¼ 0 (12)

model. vxi

The standard ke3 two-equation turbulence model can be

expressed as follows: Momentum equation:

" ! #

v vp v vui vuj 2 vul

rui uj ¼ þ ð tþ Þ

m m þ ð tþ Þ

m m d

60 vxi vxi vxj vxj vxi 3 vxl ij

Local Concentration Ratio

1 2 3 4

50 þ rgi ð13Þ

Jeter's result

40

This paper

30 Table 2

rim

Typical test data [15].

20

Test conditions qsun (W m2) Qm (kg s1) Tin ( C) Tout ( C)

Case 2 937.9 0.6206 297.8 316.9

Case 3 920.9 0.5457 379.5 398.0

0 Case 4 880.6 0.6205 299.0 317.2

-90 -75 -60 -45 -30 -15 0 15 30 45 60 75 90

Case 5 909.5 0.6580 250.7 269.4

o

Case 6 968.2 0.6536 151.0 173.3

Case 7 982.3 0.6350 197.5 219.5

Fig. 5. Local concentration ratio distribution.

980 Y.-L. He et al. / Renewable Energy 36 (2011) 976e985

Table 3

f and Nu for different grid number systems.

68 320 0.01064856 91.03302

68 400 0.01064735 91.07156

68 480 0.01064366 91.11041

80 320 0.01063134 91.04913

Energy equation:

v v m mt vT

ðrui TÞ ¼ þ þ qR (14)

vxi vxi Pr sT vxi

c2 ¼ 1.92 sk ¼ 1.0, s3 ¼ 1.3, sT ¼ 0.85[17].

Since the ke3 turbulence model is not applicable in regions close Fig. 6. Heat ﬂux distribution on outer surface of absorber tube.

to solid walls where viscous effects predominate over turbulent

ones, the wall functions method is used [17].

In this equation, DSi is related to the geometric parameters r, xL

2.3.2. Transferring the MCRT information to FLUENT and grid parameters Nc, Nx. For a speciﬁc absorber tube, the

In order to transfer the information between MCRT and Fluent geometric parameters would not change. So in equation (15), the

conveniently, the same meshes are needed. The discrete non- DSi is a function of the grid parameters (Nc,Nx). The value of DSi

uniform heat ﬂux distribution calculated by MCRT is considered to should be sufﬁciently small to ensure the photon would not be

be the second type boundary condition for this problem. A proﬁle of double counted on the surface of the absorber tube. Theoretically,

total surface heat ﬂux is exported from MCRT, and the heat ﬂux the value of DSi is the smaller, the better. But actually, during the

distribution is added to the proﬁle. Then, the new proﬁle is used to calculation process, the DSi should set an appropriate constant

be the boundary condition of the outer surface of the absorber tube. value. In our MCRT code, variables are single precision, and

In reality, the solar absorption in the absorber (opaque metal accounting the impact of rounding errors, the value of DSi is chosen

material) is volumetric phenomena [18]. However, most of the less than 5 107. Then a combination of Nc and Nx was chosen as

absorption in the absorber occurs very close to the surface (about the minimum grid system to reach the requirement of systematic

6A)[18]. Therefore, the error in treating solar absorption as error.

a surface phenomenon should be relatively small [19].

2.4.2. Grid independence test

2.4. A coupled grid checking method The average friction coefﬁcient f and the average Nusselt

Number Nu are used here for grid independence test. It is a tradi-

2.4.1. The minimum grid density for MCRT tional grid independence test method for the ﬂuid and heat transfer

In the MCRT code, attention should be paid to the systematic problem. It should be noted that the minimum grid density is

error in certain areas, in this area, the S0i is always greater than Si. limited by the systematic error discussed above.

This is because in the grid system generated by Gambit software,

the circles are substituted by the approximate polygons. According 2.4.3. Suitable photon packets number

to Section 2.2.4, the hitting position p is on the cylindrical surface, After the grid independence test, a suitable grid system is

but there is a small distance between the point and the element chosen. Then a suitable photon packets number should be chosen

ABCD (Fig. 4). The small distance causes the numerical difference of on this grid system to meet the accuracy requirement of MCRT

S0i and Si, which is the systematic error. Here, DSi is deﬁned as:

DSi ¼ S0i Si . If p is in the middle of cylindrical surface ABCD, DSi

can get maximal value: 4

7x10

sﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃ

rﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃ 4

6x10 1 2 3 4

p p 2 x2L rxL p

DSi ¼ 2r sin r 1 cos

2 þ 2þ 2 2 cos

Nc Nc 4Nx Nx Nc 5x10

4

xL p

q / W m-2

4

Nx Nc

4

3x10

4

Table 4 2x10

Photon packets checking in MCRT.

4

Number of photon packets dq 1x10

1.0 106 0.5134497 0

5.0 106 0.2395571 -90 -75 -60 -45 -30 -15 0 15 30 45 60 75 90

1.0 107 0.1627726

o

2.5 107 0.0939214

5.0 107 0.0538396

Fig. 7. Heat ﬂux distribution on circle direction.

Y.-L. He et al. / Renewable Energy 36 (2011) 976e985 981

Table 5 been tested in details in Ref. [15], were analyzed by the coupled

Comparison of the outlet temperature between simulation and test result. method, to verify the coupled method is correct.

Tout ( C) 0 ð CÞ

Tout 0

Tout Tout ð CÞ d

Case 1 124.0 126.2 2.2 0.01847 3.1. MCRT code checking

Case 2 316.9 318.4 1.5 0.00499

Case 3 398.0 400.4 2.4 0.00563 In order to conﬁrm the accuracy of our MCRT code, numerical

Case 4 317.2 319.9 2.7 0.00851

results were compared with Jeter’s [5]. In Jeter’s paper, a parameter

Case 5 269.4 272.4 3.0 0.00811

Case 6 173.3 177.0 3.7 0.02135 called Local Concentration Ratio (LCR) was discussed. LCR is

Case 7 219.5 222.8 3.3 0.01503 a relative parameter that is similar to the heat ﬂux distribution in

this paper. The relationship of the two parameters is shown as [5]:

method. A group of heat ﬂux distributions, q[ie], are calculated by q ¼ LCR$qsun (18)

using different numbers of photon packets, then the maximum The geometric shape of PTC and the parameters used here are

photon packets is chosen to be the true value, q½i _ e . The next step is the same as used in Jeter’s paper. The rim angle qrim and the

to analyze the errors of q[ie] in each nodes, marking as dq[ie]. At last, geometric concentration ratios GC are speciﬁed as follows:

the average heat ﬂux errors, dq , is calculated. If dq < s2 , the number

of photon packets is considered to be the suitable one. dq[ie] and dq YL

GC ¼ (19)

are speciﬁed as follows: 2pra

_ e j

jq½ie q½i

dq ½ie ¼ (16) 1

_ e

q½i qrim ¼ arctan (20)

ð2f =YL Þ ðYL =8f Þ

PNe The result is shown in Fig. 5, and the two curves follow the same

d ½i

ie ¼ 1 q e trend. The maximum and minimum values are also very close,

dq ¼ (17)

Ne which verify that the present code is reliable.

As shown in Fig. 5, the curve could be divided into four parts,

3. Simulation method veriﬁcation marked by 1, 2, 3 and 4. In part 1, because of the sun’s radiation is

shadowed by the receiver; the heat ﬂux is much lower but increases

In order to verify the accuracy of this coupled simulation rapidly, which is deﬁned as the shadow effect area. In part 2, more

method, the simulation results were compared with references. and more rays are reﬂected to the receiver, so the heat ﬂux

Firstly, the MCRT code was checked by comparing our results to increases steady, which is deﬁned as the heat ﬂux increasing area.

Jeter’s [5]. And then, the concentrating characteristics and heat In part 3, the heat ﬂux reduces rapidly with the rays reﬂected

transfer in absorber tube of the LS-2 Solar Collector, which have decrease because of the sun shape qsun, which is deﬁned as the heat

982 Y.-L. He et al. / Renewable Energy 36 (2011) 976e985

ﬂux reducing area. At last, in part 4, there are few reﬂected rays In Dudley et al.’s report, many measured efﬁciency test data

reaching the receiver, the absorber tube only receives the direct were shown for different cases. Seven typical cases were chosen

radiation of sun, the heat ﬂux distribution is in a very low level, here for simulation and validation, which are shown in Table 2.

which is deﬁned as the direct radiation area. Here, a new variable 40

is deﬁned as 40 ¼ qrim 90 , which is in the center of part three. 3.2.2. Grid checking

According to Section 2.4.1, taking Case 1 in Table 2 as example

for grid checking, the minimum grid density for the absorber tube

3.2. Coupled method validation by simulation for LS-2 Solar

was calculated to be: Nc 68 and Nx 320.

Collector

After that, the grid independence test was further made in

FLUENT. Four different grid systems were investigated. They were:

In this section, this coupled simulation method is applied to

68 320, 68 400, 68 480 and 80 320. The average friction

simulate the concentrating characteristics and heat transfer in

coefﬁcient and the average Nusselt number of different grid

absorber tube of the LS-2 Solar Collector, which have been tested in

systems are shown in Table 3. From this table, it could be seen that

Ref. [15].

there are no signiﬁcant differences between those grid systems. So

the grid system 68(Nc) 320(Nx) could be regarded as grid-

3.2.1. Physical model and parameters

independent.

The LS-2 parabolic trough collector module tested at Sandia

At last, the photon packet checking was made. 1 108 photon

National Lab was chosen for simulation, parameters are shown in

packets were chosen as the true value. And then the photon packets

Table 1 [15]. The computational domain includes the absorber tube

of 1.0 106, 5.0 106, 1.0 107, 2.5 107 and 5.0 107 were

domain (solid), the liquid oil domain (ﬂuid) and the ﬂow restriction

investigated. The average heat ﬂux errors are shown in Table 4, and

device domain (solid). The heat conduction in the tube and the ﬂow

5.0 107 was considered to be the suitable value.

restriction device are taken into account, in which the temperature

distribution will be determined by the full-ﬁeld solving method.

3.2.3. Heat ﬂux distribution

The material for the solid domain is stainless steel and the thermal

The heat ﬂux distribution on the outer surface of absorber tube

conductivity is ﬁxed at 54 W m1 K1.

is shown in Figs. 6 and 7. The asymmetric distribution of heat ﬂux in

Sylitherm 800 liquid oil was used as the working ﬂuid. And the

circle direction is obviously, but the heat ﬂux distribution in axial

properties of working ﬂuid, such as: isobaric speciﬁc heat capacity

direction (x) is uniform, as shown in Fig. 6. Furthermore, the curve

(cp), thermal conductivity (l), density (r) and dynamic viscosity (m)

in Fig. 7 can also divided into four parts as shown in Section 3.1.

should be selected to simulate the heat transfer process in absorber

tube by FLUENT. Those properties are temperature-dependent and

3.2.4. Outlet temperature

derived from the following correlations for temperatures range

Seven cases as shown in Table 1 were simulated using the

from 373.15 to 673.15 K [20].

couple method [15]. The predicted outlet temperatures are shown

in Table 5. Comparing with the results in Dudley et al.’s report, the

cp ¼ 0:001708T þ 1:107798 kJ kg1 K (21) absolute errors are in the range of 1.5e3.7 C, the maximum rela-

tive error is 0.02135, and the average relative error is 0.01325 (less

l ¼ 5:753496 1010 T 2 1:875266 104 T þ 1:900210 than 2%). It is a good agreement of simulation result and test result,

101 W m1 K (22) which proves that the models and methods used in the present

study are feasible and the numerical results are reliable.

0

It also can be seen from Table 5 that the outlet temperature Tout

r ¼ 4:153495 101 T þ 1:105702 103 kg m3 (23) obtained by the numerical simulation is larger than the corre-

sponding test result Tout. The error is mainly due to the assumption

of neglecting the convective heat losses between the outer wall of

m ¼ 6:672 107 T 4 1:566 103 T 3 þ 1:388$T 2 5:541 absorber tube and the inner surface of glass cover tube, and the

102 T þ 8:487 104 ðmPa sÞ ð24Þ assumption of total absorption of the solar energy arrive at the

outer surface of the inner absorber tube in the MCRT code and so

on. On the other hand, there also could be some measurement

errors constitutionally.

5

1.0x10

GC =10

25.5

8.0x10

4

GC =30

GC =50 25.0

4

6.0x10

q / W m-2

24.96K

24.5

24.5K

/K

4

4.0x10

24.0

4

2.0x10

23.5

23.42K

0.0 23.0

-90 -75 -60 -45 -30 -15 0 15 30 45 60 75 90 10 30 50

o

Geometric Concentration ratio

Fig. 9. Heat ﬂux distribution under different GCs on circle direction. Fig. 10. The temperature rising under different GCs.

Y.-L. He et al. / Renewable Energy 36 (2011) 976e985 983

5

1.2x10

The coupled simulation method can be used in the concen- o =15

o

=-60 rim

trating characteristics analysis for PTCs. In this section, the varia- 5

1.0x10 o

tions of heat ﬂux distributions in different GC and different rim

o

=-45 =30

rim

o

angle are discussed. Meanwhile, in those conditions, the tempera- 4

8.0x10 =-30

o =45

rim

ture rising of ﬂuid will also be shown. For investigating the inﬂu- o

q / W m-2

o =60

ences of GC and rim angle, the total sun radiation is kept constant, 4 =-15 rim

6.0x10 =75

o

which means the aperture yL would not change and set as yL ¼ 5 m. rim

o

For the same reason, the mass ﬂow rate was set to a constant as 4 =90

4.0x10 rim

0.6872 kg s1, which was a test value in Dudley et al.’s report [15]. =0

4

2.0x10

4.1. Inﬂuence of different geometric concentration ratios

0.0

For holding the aperture yL constant, according to equation (19), -90 -75 -60 -45 -30 -15 0 15 30 45 60 75 90

the absorber tube radius ra should be changed. For the GCs at 10, 20, o

30, the radiuses of absorber tubes are 0.080 m, 0.027 m, 0.016 m

respectively, with yL ¼ 5 m. Here, the rim angle is chosen as 90 . Fig. 12. Heat ﬂux distribution under different rim angles on circle direction.

984 Y.-L. He et al. / Renewable Energy 36 (2011) 976e985

24.0 To verify the MCRT code, the simulation results were compared

with reference and the two curves matched well. The results show

23.5 23.57K 23.36K 23.35K that the curve of heat ﬂux distribution is divided into 4 parts:

shadow effect area, heat ﬂux increasing area, heat ﬂux reducing

23.44K 23.33K

23.0 area and direct radiation area. The heat ﬂux distribution on the

outer surface of absorber tube was heterogeneous in circle

/K

22.5 direction but uniform in axial direction (x). Then, the coupled

method was used to simulate the LS-2 Solar Collector for method

veriﬁcation. And the outlet temperatures of four cases were

22.0

counted out and compared with Dudley et al.’s report data. The

comparison results show they are in good agreement, which

21.5

validate the coupled method established in this paper is useful

21.23K

and credible.

21.0

0 15 30 45 60 75 90 The concentrating characteristics of PTCs were analyzed using

o the coupled method. The variations of heat ﬂux distributions in

rim

/ different GCs and different rim angles were discussed. With GC

increasing, the heat ﬂux distributions become gentler, the angle

Fig. 13. The temperature rising under different rim angles.

span of reducing area become larger and the shadow effect of

absorber tube become weaker. The temperature rising also

improved with GC increasing. And with the rim angle rising, the

Figs. 8 and 9 show the heat ﬂux distributions on the outer surface of

maximum value of heat ﬂux becomes lower, and the curve moves

the absorber tubes under different GCs. As shown in those ﬁgures,

towards the direction 4 ¼ 90 . But there is small effect on heat

with GC rising, the heat ﬂux distributions become gentler, the angle

transfer process. If the rim angle is small, such as qrim ¼ 15 , lots of

span of reducing area become larger and the shadow effect of

rays are reﬂected by glass cover, and the temperature rising is much

absorber tube become weaker.

lower.

The HTF temperature rising under different GCs is shown in

Fig. 10. Because of the total radiation and mass ﬂow rate both set to

Acknowledgements

constant, the variation of temperature rising is only related to the

different heat ﬂux distributions, which is caused by different GCs. As

The present work is supported by the National Natural Science

shown in Fig. 10, with GC rising, the temperature rising improved.

Foundation of China (Nos. 50736005, 50906070) and National Basic

Gentler heat ﬂux distribution made the heat lost reduced.

Research Program of China (973 Program) (2010CB227100).

absorber tube radius is set at ra ¼ 0.035 m. Figs. 11 and 12 showed cp isobaric speciﬁc heat capacity (kJ/kg K)

the heat ﬂux distribution on the outer surface of the absorber tube Cm, c1, c2 Coefﬁcients in turbulence model

under different rim angles. With qrim rising, the maximum value of e Thickness of the absorber tube (m)

heat ﬂux become lower, and the curve moves towards the direction f Focal length (m)

of 4 ¼ 90 , except qrim ¼ 15 . The center of reducing area, 40, is f Average friction coefﬁcient

a function of qrim. With qrim rising, 40 rises, and then, the concen- GC Geometric concentration ratios

tration area becomes larger, which causes the maximum value of k Thermal conductivity or kinetic energy or von Karman

heat ﬂux reduce. It is noteworthy that the heat ﬂux distribution of constant

qrim ¼ 15 does not equate to the distribution rule of others. It is kw Thermal conductivity of the inner absorber tube wall

much lower compared to others. A considered reason is that the rim (W/m K)

angle is so small, then the angles between reﬂect rays and normal kin Inlet turbulent kinetic energy

line of absorber tube is large, which causes lots of rays are reﬂected ni Refractive indices

by the glass cover, and less rays absorbed by the tube. Ne Number of elements

Fig. 13 shows the temperature rising under different rim angles. Nn Number of nodes

There is no signiﬁcant difference of the temperature rising which rim Nr Number of ray

angle are qrim ¼ 30 , 45 , 60 , 75 , 90 . It seems that the inﬂuence of Nc Number of nodes in circumferential direction

rim angle to heat transfer process is also small. An exception is Nx Number of nodes in x direction

qrim ¼ 15 , the temperature rising is much smaller than other Nu Average Nusselt number

conditions, that is because less rays traced arriving at absorber tube. p[ie] Discrete photon ﬂux distribution

q Heat ﬂux distribution

5. Conclusion qsun Direct normal insolation

q[ie] Discrete heat ﬂux distribution

In this paper, a coupled method of MCRT and FVM is established _ e

q½i True value of heat ﬂux distribution

to simulate the photo-thermal process of parabolic trough solar Qm Mean mass ﬂow rate (kg/s)

thermal power generation. The MCRT code is used to gain the r Radius

heterogeneous heat ﬂux distribution on absorber tube, and FVM ra Radius of absorber tube

software FLUENT is used to solve the ﬂuid and heat transfer rg Radius of glass cover

problem. For the same mesh systems used in MCRT and FLUENT is R The reﬂectivity of reﬂector

convenient for the information transfer, a coupled grid checking Si Area of element (m2)

method is also established. Tg Transmittance of glass

Y.-L. He et al. / Renewable Energy 36 (2011) 976e985 985

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[5] Jeter MS. Analytical determination of the optical performance of practical

parabolic trough collectors from design data. Solar Energy 1987;39:11e21.

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