Changing the heat transfer fluid (HTF) is a viable approach to study the corresponding effect on the thermal and hydraulic performances of parabolic trough collectors (PTC). Three categorized-types of pure fluids are used in this study; water, Therminol® VP-1 and molten salt. The parametric comparison between pure fluids is also studied considering the effect of various inlet fluid temperatures and different Reynolds (Re) numbers on the thermal performance. Two low-Reynolds turbulence models are used; Launder and Sharma (LS) k-epsilon and Shear Stress Transport (SST) k-omega models. In order to assess the performance of each fluid, a number of parameters are analyzed including average Nusselt (Nu) number, specific pressure drop distributions, thermal losses, thermal stresses and overall thermal efficiency of the PTC system. Results confirmed that changing the working fluid in the PTC enhances the overall heat transfer thereby improving thermal efficiency. For a temperature-range of (320-500) K, the Therminol® VP-1 performed better thanwater, resulting in higherNu numbers, lower thermal stresses and higher thermal efficiencies. On the other hand, for the common temperature-range, both Therminol® VP-1 and molten salt preformed more or less the same with Therminol® VP-1 case depicting lower thermal stresses. The molten salt is thus the best choice for high operating temperatures (up to 873 K) as it does not depict any significant reduction in the overall thermal efficiency at high temperatures; this leads to a better performance for the Rankine cycle. For the highest tested Reynolds number for an inlet fluid temperature of 320 K, a comparison of heat transfer performance (Nusselt number) and the overall thermal efficiency between Therminol® VP-1 and water showed that Therminol® VP-1 is the best candidate, whereas the molten salt is the best choice for a higher inlet temperature of 600 K. For example, at an inlet temperature of 320 K, the Nusselt number and overall thermal efficiency of therminol VP-1 were 910 and 49% respectively as opposed to 443 and 38% for water. On the other hand, at the higher inlet temperature of 600 K, these two parameters (Nusselt number and overall thermal efficiency) were recorded as 614 and 41 % for molten salt and 500 and 39 % for Therminol® VP-1.
- Heat transfer fluids
- Non-uniform heating
- Nusselt number
- Parabolic solar trough collectors
- Rankine cycle
- Solar thermal power plant
- Thermal and hydraulic performance