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Parabolic Solar Collector CFD Simulation

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In power plants using parabolic solar collectors, a linear parabolic concentrator is used to generate heat and increase the working fluid temperature.


This product includes CFD simulation files and a training movie using ANSYS Fluent software.

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Parabolic Solar Collector Problem Description

The present study deals with heat transfer within a pipe carrying water flow. In fact, in the present model, there is a water-flow pipe that has been exposed to solar radiation. Behind the tube, there is a parabolic plate as the solar radiation absorber plate, which is responsible for absorbing the solar radiation energy and then reflecting it. This is the mechanism of a parabolic solar collector.

In this case, only a water flow pipe is modeled, such that the water pipe wall is divided into two upper and lower wall sections. The upper part of the wall is directly exposed to solar energy, while the lower part of the wall is influenced by reflective energy from the parabolic absorber plates of the collector. Two different constant heat fluxes applied on two walls. The tube wall is made of aluminum.

Assumptions for Parabolic Solar Collector

The simulation is Steady-State and the solver is Pressure-Based. Also, the gravity effect is ignored.

Geometry & Mesh of the Parabolic Solar Collector

The present 2-D model was designed by Design Modeler software. The geometry is a semi-cylindrical tube since the model is symmetry. The tube consists of two layers, the outer thin layer acting as the tube wall and the inner portion as the fluid domain. A structured mesh was performed by ANSYS Meshing software and the element number is equal to 1475,000.

CFD Simulation

Here is a summary of the steps to define and solving the problem

k-epsilon Viscous model
RNG k-epsilon model
standard wall function near wall treatment
on Energy
Cell zone condition
water liquid flow
aluminum pipe
Boundary conditions (parabolic solar collector)
velocity-inlet Inlet
0.5024043 m.s-1 velocity magnitude
320 K temperature
pressure-outlet Outlet
0 Pa gauge pressure
wall Walls type
19500 W.m-2 heat flux wall-down
750 W.m-2 heat flux wall-up
0 W.m-2 heat flux Wall-thickness
Solution Methods (parabolic solar collector)
Simple   Pressure-velocity coupling
Standard pressure Spatial discretization
first order upwind momentum
first order upwind energy
first order upwind turbulent kinetic energy
First order upwind turbulent dissipation rate
Initialization (parabolic solar collector)
Standard Initialization method
320 K temperature
-0.5024036 m.s-1 z-velocity


All files, including Geometry, Mesh, Case & Data, are available in Simulation File. By the way, Training File presents how to solve the problem and extract all desired results.


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