The performance of a novel solar energy concentrating system consisting of a fixed, concave spherical mirror and a sun-tracking, cylindrical absorber is analyzed in detail. This concentrating system takes advantage of the spherical symmetry of the mirror and its linear image which, when taken together, form a tracking, solar-concentrating system in which only the small cylindrical absorber need move. The effects of mirror reflectance, concentration ratio, heat transfer fluid flow rate, radiative surface properties, incidence angle, an evacuated absorber envelope, and insolation level upon thermal performance of the concentrator are studied by means of a mathematical model. The simulation includes first order radiation and convection processes between the absorber and its concentric glass envelope and between the envelope and the environment; radiation processes are described by a dual-band, gray approximation. The energy equations are solved in finite difference form in order that heat flux and temperature distributions along the absorber may be computed accurately. The results of the study show that high-temperature heat energy can be collected efficiently over a wide range of useful operating conditions. The analysis indicates that mirror surface reflectance is the single most important of the principal governing parameters in determining system performance. Efficiency always increases with concentration ratio although the rate of increase is quite small for concentration ratios above 50. High fluid flow rate (i.e., lower operating temperature), an evacuated envelope, or a highly selective surface can enhance performance under some conditions. The conclusion of the study is that high-temperature heat energy can be generated at high efficiency by the present concentrator with present technology in sunny regions of the world.

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