Technical Brief

Flat-Plate Solar Collector in Transient Operation: Modeling and Measurements

[+] Author and Article Information
Ahmad M. Saleh, Hosni I. Abu-Mulaweh

Department of Engineering,
Indiana University–Purdue University,
Fort Wayne, IN 46805

Donald W. Mueller, Jr.

Department of Engineering,
Indiana University–Purdue University,
Fort Wayne, IN 46805
e-mail: muellerd@ipfw.edu

1Present address: University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL 32816.

2Corresponding author

Contributed by the Heat Transfer Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF THERMAL SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING APPLICATIONS. Manuscript received December 18, 2013; final manuscript received August 26, 2014; published online October 23, 2014. Assoc. Editor: Ting Wang.

J. Thermal Sci. Eng. Appl 7(1), 014502 (Oct 23, 2014) (5 pages) Paper No: TSEA-13-1208; doi: 10.1115/1.4028569 History: Received December 18, 2013; Revised August 26, 2014

This paper describes a mathematical model for simulating the transient processes which occur in liquid flat-plate solar collectors. A discrete nodal model that represents the flat-plate solar collector's layers and the storage tank is employed. The model is based on solving a system of coupled differential equations which describe the energy conservation for the glass cover, air gap, absorber, fluid, insulation, and the storage tank. Inputs to the model include the time-varying liquid flow rate, incident solar radiation, and the ambient air temperature, as well as the volume of liquid in the storage tank and initial temperature of the system. The system of differential equations is solved iteratively using an implicit, finite-difference formulation executed with Matlab software. In order to verify the proposed method, an experiment was designed and conducted on different days with variable ambient conditions and flow rates. The comparison between the computed and measured results of the transient fluid temperature at the collector outlet shows good agreement. The proposed method is extremely general and flexible accounting for variable ambient conditions and flow rates and allowing for a geometrical and thermophysical description of all major components of the solar collector system, including the storage tank. The validated, general model is suitable to investigate the effectiveness of various components without the necessity of carrying out experimental work, and the flexible computational scheme is useful for transient simulations of energy systems.

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Fig. 1

Photo of the test apparatus

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Fig. 2

Effect of incident solar radiation on the collector outlet temperature for a given flowrate of 1.5 GPM

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Fig. 3

Effect of flowrate on the collector outlet temperature

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Fig. 4

Temperature response at the midpoint of the collector for a given flowrate of 1.5 GPM

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Fig. 5

Time variation of the recorded solar irradiance

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Fig. 6

Comparison between measured and predicted collector inlet and outlet temperatures




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