Buoyancy effects on thermal behavior of a flat-plate solar collector

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Abstract

Theoretical and experimental investigations of the flow and temperature distribution in a 12.53 m(2) solar collector panel with an absorber consisting of two vertical manifolds interconnected by 16 parallel horizontal fins have been carried out. The investigations are focused on overheating and boiling problems in the collector panel. Single-phase liquid flow and heat transfer in the collector panel are studied by means of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) calculations. Differently designed collectors are investigated with different collector fluid volume flow rates. The effect of friction and the influence of the buoyancy effects are considered in the investigations. Further experimental investigations of the solar collector panel are carried out. The flow distribution through the absorber is evaluated by means of temperature measurements on the back of the absorber tubes. The measured temperatures are compared to the temperatures determined by the CFD model and there is a good agreement between the measured and calculated temperatures. Calculations with the CFD model elucidate the flow and temperature distribution in the collector The influences of collector fluid flow rate and inlet temperature on the flow and temperature distribution are shown. The flow distribution through the absorber tubes is uniform if a high flow rate of 10.01/min is used By decreased collector fluid flow rate and by increased collector fluid inlet temperature, the flow distribution gets less uniform due to the influence of buoyancy force. If the collector fluid flow rate is small and the collector fluid inlet temperature is high enough, severe nonuniform flow distribution may happen with a small flow rate or even zero or reverse flow in the upper horizontal strips, resulting in overheating or boiling problems in the strips. The CFD calculations elucidate the flow and temperature distribution in the collector panels of different designs. Based on the investigations, recommendations are given in order to avoid overheating or boiling problems in the solar collector panel.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Solar Energy Engineering
Volume130
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)021010
ISSN0199-6231
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Keywords

  • computational fluid dynamics (CFD)
  • flat-plate solar collector
  • buoyancy effects
  • flow distribution

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