Focus: Optimising Flat plate Solar Collectors
Flat-plate collectors (FPC) are the most used solar collecting devices. In their standard form, they consist of a metal absorber plate in an enclosure with a transparent top and well insulated sides and bottom; a working fluid flows below or on top of the absorber. Solar radiation passes through the transparent cover to the absorber plate which absorbs and transfers the bulk of the energy to the working fluid.
Standard FPCs are cost-efficient, robust and effective even with diffuse solar irradiation; they produce temperatures between 50 – 80 °C. however, to compete favourably with conventional power generating technologies, highly efficient solar collectors which function well with low solar irradiation and produce temperatures above 100 °C need to be developed. FPCs are typically permanently fixed in position and require no tracking of the sun, they are usually oriented directly towards the equator, facing south in the northern hemisphere and north in the southern. The latitude of the location is often equal to the optimum tilt angle of the collector and sometimes an angle variations of 10° to 15° is employed depending on the application.
To develop an efficient, economical Flat Plate Collector for generating process heat (more than 100°C).
Aims of the research
- Improve heat transfer
- Reduce losses
- Building integration
- Cost Reduction
This involves the use of theoretical models as well as developing new ones. Some models being employed to evaluate and improve the system include models of heat transfer, vacuum science and optics.
computer software are being used for further Investigation, these include SolidWorks, Ansys CFX and MatLab.
From results of the theoretical and computational studies, the individual components of the system are fabricated and tested; the results from these, inform further improvements before components are integrated into a system.