A platform for performance evaluation and optimal design of compound parabolic concentrators for thermal applications in medium temperature range

Donghao Xu, Purdue University


As one of the potential solutions to energy crisis and global warming, solar energy has been employed to replace fossil fuels in various thermal systems. The crucial device in solar thermal systems is the solar collector. Currently, flat-plate collectors and tracking concentrators have been commercialized and widely used in low temperature and high temperature applications. But the medium temperature between 100°C and 300°C is barely covered by solar thermal systems despite numerous possible applications. And the two mature collectors are not suitable. Facing this problem, compound parabolic concentrators (CPCs) stand out among existing solar collectors. CPC is a type of stationary non-imaging concentrators, which is cost-effective and can retain high efficiency at medium temperature range. However, it is not widely used in practice due to incompetent economic performance against conventional energy system. In order to improve the performance of CPCs, this research aims to develop a comprehensive platform for performance evaluation and optimal design based on an integrated optical and thermal model of CPC validated by experiment data. In order to reach this goal, the study includes four objectives as follows: Objective 1: Conduct experiments to reveal the actual performance of CPCs at relatively high temperature in medium range and provide data for model validation. Objective 2: Develop an integrated optical and thermal model of CPC. This integrated model consists of an optical model and a thermal model. Both models are solved under the same weather conditions, operation conditions and CPC configurations. Objective 3: Validate the integrated model by proven studies and experimental data. Objective 4: Develop an optimization model and provide guidelines for the design of CPC. This research would have significance for the development of CPC-based solar energy systems. The optimal design platform can be conveniently used to find out the best design of CPC to a specific temperature requirement at a specific location, which can serve as a powerful tool for designers. The underlying model can also be used to verify the optimal results and help designer to adjust the optimal design to their additional needs. In addition, the novel ray tracing algorithm and bin method to simplify the optimization can be extended to other fields that face the similar mathematical problems.




Qu, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Architectural|Engineering|Civil engineering

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