Receiving cavity for concentrated solar power applications on parabolic trough analysed by means of 3D CFD simulations

Antonio Gaetano, Simone Zavattoni

This paper illustrates the results of 3D steady state CFD simulations performed on an air based cavity receiver for parabolic trough collectors developed by Airlight Energy Manufacturing SA (CH). The receiving component is a hollow steel tube coiled as a spring forming the cavity wherein solar radiation, collected by a primary mirror, is concentrated by a secondary optics to avoid potential energy dispersion. Thermal energy is gathered by air, the heat transfer fluid, while it moves into the hollow tube. Hot air, with outlet temperature of about 650°C, is collected into a run-back pipe and used to feed the heat exchanger to generate steam. The thermal behaviour of the receiving cavity was analyzed by means of the Ansys software Fluent. Radiation heat transfer was accounted for by the Discrete Ordinates (DO) model. Different working conditions were considered and simulated taking into account: skew angle of the incoming solar radiation, thermal efficiency and total pressure drop.