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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-epsilonViscous model
RNGk-epsilon model
standard wall functionnear wall treatment
Cell zone condition
water liquidflow
Boundary conditions (parabolic solar collector)
0.5024043 m.s-1velocity magnitude
320 Ktemperature
0 Pagauge pressure
wallWalls type
19500 W.m-2heat fluxwall-down
750 W.m-2heat fluxwall-up
0 W.m-2heat fluxWall-thickness
Solution Methods (parabolic solar collector)
Simple Pressure-velocity coupling
StandardpressureSpatial discretization
first order upwindmomentum
first order upwindenergy
first order upwindturbulent kinetic energy
First order upwindturbulent dissipation rate
Initialization (parabolic solar collector)
StandardInitialization method
320 Ktemperature
-0.5024036 m.s-1z-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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