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Emitted radiation by absorber

(Infrared range) Heat Loss to Ambient

Absorber Plate with

Incident radiation Selective Coating

Reflection Glazing

(visible range)

Casing

Fluid Carrying

Back and side

passage

Insulation

When a certain amount of solar radiation falls on the surface of a collector, most of it is

absorbed and delivered to the transport fluid, and it is carried away as useful energy

As in all thermal systems, Heat Losses to the environment by various modes of heat

transfer are inevitable

1

HITEC University Taxila

Thermal Analysis of Flat Plate Solar Collectors

Assumptions to simplify the Numerical Modeling and Calculations

Collector is of the header and riser type

fixed on a sheet with parallel tubes

Headers cover only a small area of the

collector and can be neglected

Heaters provide uniform flow to the riser

tubes

dimensional

Properties of materials are independent of temperature

Heat flow through the cover is one dimensional

Department of Mechanical Engineering

2

HITEC University Taxila

Thermal Analysis of Flat Plate Solar Collectors

Assumptions to simplify the Numerical Modeling and Calculations

negligible

Same ambient temperature exists at the

front and back of the collector

There is no shading of the absorber plate

3

HITEC University Taxila

Thermal Analysis of Flat Plate Solar Collectors

Thermal performance of a collector can be calculated from a First-law Energy Balance.

according to the first law of thermodynamics, for a simple flat-plate collector an

instantaneous steady-state energy balance is

Useful energy = Energy Absorbed – Heat Loss To 4.1

Gain (Qu) By The Collector Surroundings

Energy Absorbed By The Collector per unit area of absorber S is equal to the difference

between the incident solar radiation and the optical losses, as defined by the following Eq.

𝟏 + 𝒄𝒐𝒔𝜷 𝟏 − 𝒄𝒐𝒔𝜷

𝑺 = 𝑰𝒃 𝑹𝒃 𝝉𝜶 𝒃 + 𝑰𝒅 𝝉𝜶 𝒅 + 𝑰𝝆𝒈 𝝉𝜶 𝒈 4.2

𝟐 𝟐

Thermal Energy Lost To Surroundings by

conduction, convection, and infrared radiation

can be represented as the product of a heat

transfer coefficient UL times the difference

between mean absorber plate temperature Tpm

and the ambient Temperature Ta

Department of Mechanical Engineering

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HITEC University Taxila

Thermal Analysis of Flat Plate Solar Collectors

In steady state the useful energy output Qu of a collector of area Ac is the difference

between absorbed solar radiation and thermal loss: combining Eqs. (4.1, 4.2 and 4.3):

Problem with Eq. (4.4) is that the mean absorber temperature Tpm is difficult to calculate or

measure since it is a function of the collector design, incident solar radiation, and the

entering fluid conditions. The Eq. will be reformulated so that useful energy gain can be

expressed in terms of fluid temperature Tf.

Collector efficiency is defined as the ratio of the useful gain over some specified time

period to the incident solar energy over the same time period

4.5

5

HITEC University Taxila

Thermal Analysis of Flat Plate Solar Collectors

As in all thermal systems, heat losses to the environment by various modes of heat

transfer are inevitable

Thermal network is drawn for a

single-cover, flat-plate collector

in terms of conduction,

convection, and radiation and in

terms of the Resistance

Between Plates

Temperature of the plate is Tp,

the collector back temperature is

Tb, and the absorbed solar

radiation is S

Various thermal losses from the

collector can be combined into a

simple resistance, RL so that the

energy losses from the collector Fig. 4.1

4.6

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HITEC University Taxila

Thermal Analysis of Flat Plate Solar Collectors

4.6

based on collector area Ac

(W/m2-K)

Tp = Plate Temperature (°C)

UL isa complicated function of

the collector construction and

its operating conditions, given

by:

4.7

Ub= Bottom heat loss coefficient

(W/m2-K)

Ue= Heat loss coefficient form the Fig. 4.1

collector edges (W/m2-K)

7

HITEC University Taxila

Thermal Analysis of Flat Plate Solar Collectors

Top Heat Loss/Top loss coefficient, Ut (W/m2-K)

at temperature Tp to the glass cover at Tg and

from the glass cover at Tg to ambient at Ta is

by convection and infrared radiation

by

Qt,p-g

⇒qt,p-g 4.8

hc, p-g = convection heat transfer coefficient between Fig. 4.1

the absorber plate and glass cover (W/m2-K)

hr, p-g = radiation heat transfer coefficient between

the absorber plate and glass cover (W/m2-K)

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HITEC University Taxila

Thermal Analysis of Flat Plate Solar Collectors

Top Heat Loss/Top loss coefficient, Ut (W/m2-K)

heat transfer coefficient, hc,p-g is calculated

from Nusselt No. correlation, which is given

by: 𝟏.𝟔 +

𝟏𝟕𝟎𝟖(𝒔𝒊𝒏 𝟏. 𝟖𝜷) 𝟏𝟕𝟎𝟖

𝑵𝒖 = 𝟏 + 𝟏. 𝟒𝟒 𝟏 − 𝟏− Error! No

𝑹𝒂 𝒄𝒐𝒔𝜷 𝑹𝒂 𝒄𝒐𝒔𝜷 text of

+ specified

𝑹𝒂 𝒄𝒐𝒔𝜷 𝟏 style in

+ ( ) −𝟏

𝟑 4.9 document..1

𝟓𝟖𝟑𝟎

“Plus sign represents positive values only”

Rayleigh value, Ra, is

4.10

Fig. 4.1

β’ = volumetric coefficient of expansion; for ideal gas,

β’= 1/T

Pr = Prandtl number

L =absorber to glass cover distance (m)

ν = kinetic viscosity (m2/s)

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HITEC University Taxila

Thermal Analysis of Flat Plate Solar Collectors

4.10

Fluid

properties in Eq. (4.10) are evaluated at

the mean gap temperature (Tp + Tg)/2

Radiation Heat Transfer Coefficient term in Eq.

(4.8) can be linearized to give:

4.11

εg = Infrared emissivity of glass cover

Eq. 4.11 is for radiation heat exchange between two

flat and equal surfaces which is derived from the

general case of radiation heat exchange (Eq.

4.12)b/w any two surfaces: Fig. 4.1

4.12

10

HITEC University Taxila

Thermal Analysis of Flat Plate Solar Collectors

Top Heat Loss/Top loss coefficient, Ut (W/m2-K)

⇒ 4.14

by:

Qt,g-a

⇒qt,g-a 4.15

between the the glass cover and

ambient (W/m2-K)

Fig. 4.1

hr, g-a = radiation heat transfer coefficient

between the glass cover and ambient

(W/m2-K)

Department of Mechanical Engineering

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HITEC University Taxila

Thermal Analysis of Flat Plate Solar Collectors

Top Heat Loss/Top loss coefficient, Ut (W/m2-K)

4.16

hc,g-a = hw = Convective heat transfer coefficient

for wind blowing over the

2 o

collector.(W/m . C) = 5.7+3.8Vair

Vair = Average wind speed (m/sec)

⇒ 4.17

1 1

⇒ Ut 4.18

Rp g Rg a

Fig. 4.1

⇒ 4.19

12

HITEC University Taxila

Thermal Analysis of Flat Plate Solar Collectors

Top Heat Loss/Top loss coefficient, Ut (W/m2-K)

In some cases, collectors are constructed

with two glass covers in an attempt to lower

heat losses

Another resistance Rg1-g2 will be added to the

system shown to account for the heat transfer

from the lower to upper glass covers

transfer from the lower glass at Tg2 to the

upper glass at Tg1 is given by

Qt,g1-g2

Fig. 4.1

⇒qt, g1-g2 4.20

13

HITEC University Taxila

Thermal Analysis of Flat Plate Solar Collectors

Top Heat Loss/Top loss coefficient, Ut (W/m2-K)

g1 can be obtained by Eqs. 4.9 and 4.10

obtained again from Eq. (4.11) and is given

by

4.21

⇒ 4.22

(4.8) through (4.20) is an iterative process

A guess is made for the unknown cover

temperature Tg

Department of Mechanical Engineering

14

HITEC University Taxila

Thermal Analysis of Flat Plate Solar Collectors

Top Heat Loss/Top loss coefficient, Ut (W/m2-K)

A guess is made for the unknown cover

temperature Tg, from which the convective

and radiative heat transfer coefficients b/w

parallel surfaces are calculated

must be equal to the overall heat loss, a new

set of cover temperatures can be calculated:

U t (T p Ta )

T T 4.23

j i hc ,i j hr ,i j

“i” and “j” refer to two adjacent flat

surfaces. E.g. absorber plate and glass

cover or glass cover-1 and 2. Fig. 4.1

Iterative Process is repeated until the cover

temperatures do not change significantly

b/w successive iterations

Department of Mechanical Engineering

15

HITEC University Taxila

Thermal Analysis of Flat Plate Solar Collectors

Top Heat Loss/Top loss coefficient, Ut (W/m2-K)

Example 4.1:

Calculate the top loss coefficient for an absorber with a single glass cover having

following specifications:

o Plate Emittance: 0.95

o Ambient Air Temperature = 10 oC 𝟏𝟕𝟎𝟖(𝒔𝒊𝒏 𝟏. 𝟖𝜷)𝟏.𝟔 𝟏𝟕𝟎𝟖 +

𝑵𝒖 = 𝟏 + 𝟏. 𝟒𝟒 𝟏 − 𝟏−

o Wind Speed = 3 m/sec 𝑹𝒂 𝒄𝒐𝒔𝜷

+

𝑹𝒂 𝒄𝒐𝒔𝜷

𝑹𝒂 𝒄𝒐𝒔𝜷 𝟏

o Collector tilt = 45o + (

𝟓𝟖𝟑𝟎

)𝟑 − 𝟏

T T

j i hc ,i j hr ,i j

16

HITEC University Taxila

Thermal Analysis of Flat Plate Solar Collectors

Top Heat Loss/Top loss coefficient, Ut (W/m2-K)

Asthe iterations required are tedious and time consuming, especially for the case of

multiple-cover systems, straightforward evaluation of Ut is given by the following

empirical equation developed by Klein (1975) with sufficient accuracy for design purposes

4.23

Where;

17

HITEC University Taxila

Thermal Analysis of Flat Plate Solar Collectors

Top Heat Loss/Top loss coefficient, Ut (W/m2-K)

Example 4.2:

Repeat Example 4.1 using the empirical Eq. 4.23 and compare the results.

Example 4.3:

Estimate the top heat loss coefficient of a collector that has the following specifications:

Collector slope = 35°, Number of glass covers = 2,

Thickness of each glass cover = 4 mm, Thickness of absorbing plate = 0.5 mm, Space

between glass covers = 20 mm, Space between inner glass cover and absorber = 40 mm

Thickness of back insulation = 50 mm,

Back insulation thermal conductivity = 0.05 W/m-K.

Mean absorber temperature, Tp = 80°C = 353 K, Ambient air temperature = 15°C = 288 K.

Absorber plate emissivity, εp = 0.10, Glass emissivity, εg = 0.88.

Wind velocity = 2.5 m/s.

18

HITEC University Taxila

Thermal Analysis of Flat Plate Solar Collectors

Bottom Heat Loss Coefficient, Ut (W/m2-K)

is first conducted through the insulation and

then by a combined convection and infrared

radiation transfer to the surrounding

ambient air

Magnitudes of Rp-b and Rb-a are such that it is

usually possible to assume Rb-a is zero and

all resistance to heat flow is due to the

insulation 1

Back loss coefficient is: 4.24

kb = conductivity of back insulation (W/m-K)

Fig. 4.1

heat loss from the back of the plate rarely

exceeds 10% of the upward loss

Typical values of the back surface heat loss

coefficient are 0.3–0.6 W/m2-K

Department of Mechanical Engineering

19

HITEC University Taxila

Thermal Analysis of Flat Plate Solar Collectors

Edge Heat Loss Coefficient, Ue (W/m2-K)

Heat transfer coefficient for the heat loss from the collector edges can be obtained from

4.25

Where,

te = thickness of edge insulation (m)

ke = conductivity of edge insulation (W/m-K)

hc,e-a = convection heat loss coefficient from edge to ambient (W/m2-K)

Typical values of the edge heat loss coefficient are 1.5–2.0 (W/m2-K)

Evaluation of edge losses is complicated, therefore in a well-designed system, the edge

loss should be small so that it is not necessary to predict it with great accuracy

Losses through the edge should be referenced to the collector area, If the edge loss

coefficient area product is (UA)edge then edge loss coefficient

(UA)edge

Ue 4.25A

Ac

Department of Mechanical Engineering

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HITEC University Taxila

Thermal Analysis of Flat Plate Solar Collectors

Overall Heat Loss Coefficient, Ue (W/m2-K)

Collector’s overall heat loss coefficient is:

U= Ut +Ub + Ue 4.25B

21

HITEC University Taxila

Thermal Analysis of Flat Plate Solar Collectors

Collectors and Collector Efficiency Factor

the temperature distribution that exists in a

solar collector (As in Fig. 4.2)

Some of the solar energy absorbed on the

plate must be conducted along the plate to

the region of tubes

Temperature midway between the tubes will Fig. 4.2

be higher than the temperature in the

vicinity of the tubes

Fig. 4.3

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HITEC University Taxila

Thermal Analysis of Flat Plate Solar Collectors

Collectors and Collector Efficiency Factor

Energy transferred to fluid will heat the fluid, causing a temperature gradient to exist in the

direction of flow

Fig. 4.3

23

HITEC University Taxila

Thermal Analysis of Flat Plate Solar Collectors

Collectors and Collector Efficiency Factor

Temperature difference b/w tubes can be derived if we assume the temperature gradient in

the flow direction is negligible

Analysis can be performed by considering the sheet-tube configuration, where the

distance between the tubes is W, the tube diameter is D, and the sheet thickness is tab

Region between the center line separating the tubes and the tube base can be considered

as a classical Fin Problem

Length of the fin is (W-D)/2

An elemental region of width, dx, and length L in the flow direction are shown

dx

tab

tab

Fig. 4.4

Department of Mechanical Engineering

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HITEC University Taxila

Thermal Analysis of Flat Plate Solar Collectors

Collectors and Collector Efficiency Factor

By solving energy balance on this element

4.26 dqc

qx qx+dx Tb

Eq. (4.26) gives the

temperature distribution in the dx

x direction at any given y Fig. 4.5

tab

Energy conducted to the region

of tube per unit length in the flow (W-D)/2

direction is: x

4.27

or with the help of Fin Efficiency, F

F = Standard Fin Efficiency for straight fins with a

4.28 rectangular profile

25

HITEC University Taxila

Thermal Analysis of Flat Plate Solar Collectors

Collectors and Collector Efficiency Factor

Useful gain of the collector

also includes the energy

collected above the tube

region: tab

4.29

useful energy gain per unit length

in the direction of the fluid flow is:

4.30

This energy ultimately must be transferred to the fluid, which can be expressed in terms of

two resistances as

Cb is the bond conductance, which can be estimated from

4.31 knowledge of the bond thermal conductivity, kb, the

average bond thickness, ϒ, and the bond width, b

hfi = heat transfer coefficient between the fluid and the tube wall

26

HITEC University Taxila

Thermal Analysis of Flat Plate Solar Collectors

Collectors and Collector Efficiency Factor

Solving Eq. (4.31) for Tb, substituting it into Eq. (4.30), and solving the resultant equation

for the useful Heat Gain of the Collector in terms of local fluid temperature is:

4.32

where F’ is the Collector Efficiency Factor, given by

4.33

oF’ represents the ratio of the actual useful energy gain to the useful energy gain that

would result if the collector absorbing surface had been at the local fluid temperature

oF’ represents the effect of the temperature drop between the absorber plate Tp and the

fluid in the pipe Tf

oThe numerator of Eq. (4.32) is the heat transfer resistance from absorber plate to

ambient and denominator is the heat transfer resistance from the fluid to the ambient

air.

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HITEC University Taxila

Thermal Analysis of Flat Plate Solar Collectors

Collectors and Collector Efficiency Factor

4.34

oF’ considers the heat transfer resistance from absorber to fluid in the pipe

•due to fin conduction,

•due to the conduction through the contact bond between absorber and pipe, and

•due to the forced convection between the pipe inner wall and the flowing fluid

oF’ decreases with increased tube center-to-center distances and increases with increase

in both material thicknesses and thermal conductivity

28

HITEC University Taxila

Thermal Analysis of Flat Plate Solar Collectors

Collectors and Collector Efficiency Factor

Example 4.4:

For a collector having the following characteristics and ignoring the bond resistance,

calculate the fin efficiency and the collector efficiency factor:

Overall loss coefficient = 6.9 W/m2-°C

Tube spacing = 120 mm

Tube outside diameter = 15 mm

Tube inside diameter = 13.5 mm

Plate thickness = 0.4 mm

Plate material = copper

Heat transfer coefficient inside the tubes = 320 W/m2-°C

29

HITEC University Taxila

Thermal Analysis of Flat Plate Solar Collectors

Fluid enters the collector at temperature Tfi and increases in temperature until at the exit it

is Tfo

Consider an infinitesimal length δy of the tube as shown in Figure. Useful energy

delivered to the fluid is q’u δy

Fig. 4.6

By solving energy balance on this element

T f Ta S / U L

U L nWF y

'

exp 4.33A

T fi Ta S / U L

.

m C p

4.33B

30

HITEC University Taxila

Thermal Analysis of Flat Plate Solar Collectors

Efficiency

It is usually desirable to express the collector total useful energy gain Qu in terms of the

fluid inlet temperature, Tfi

Heat Removal Factor FR represents the ratio of the actual useful energy gain that would

result if the collector-absorbing surface had been at the inlet fluid temperature, Tfi

4.34

4.34

Rearranging yields:

4.35

31

HITEC University Taxila

Thermal Analysis of Flat Plate Solar Collectors

Efficiency

4.35

Another parameter usually used in the analysis of collectors is the Flow Factor F’’, which

is defined as the ratio of FR to F’

4.36

collector flow factor F’’ is a function of only a single variable, the dimensionless

collector capacitance rate, mcp /AcULF’

FR is equivalent to the Effectiveness of a Conventional Heat Exchanger which is defined as

the ratio of the actual heat transfer to the maximum possible heat transfer

Maximum possible useful energy gain in a solar collector occurs when the whole collector

is at the inlet fluid temperature, Tfi; heat losses to the ambient are then at a minimum

32

HITEC University Taxila

Thermal Analysis of Flat Plate Solar Collectors

Efficiency

FR times this maximum possible useful energy is the actual useful energy:

Qu = Ac FR [S - UL (Tfi - Ta)] 4.37 Qu = Ac [S - UL (Tpm - Ta)] 4.4

o This is same as Eq. (4.4), with the difference that the inlet fluid temperature (Tfi)

replaces the average plate temperature (Tp) with the use of the FR

o Eq. (4.37), is a convenient representation when analyzing the solar energy systems,

since the inlet fluid temperature (Tfi) is usually known

33

HITEC University Taxila

Thermal Analysis of Flat Plate Solar Collectors

Example 4.5:

Calculate the useful gain and efficiency of an

array of 10 solar collector modules installed

in parallel, at a slope of 60o and a surface

azimuth of 0o. The hourly radiation on the

plane of the plane of the collector IT, the

hourly radiation absorbed by the absorber

plate S, and the hourly ambient temperature

Ta, are given in the table. For the collector

assume UL to be 8.0 W/m2 oC, and the plate

efficiency factor F’ to be 0.841. The water flow

rate through each 1 ⨯ 2-m collector panel is

0.03 kg/s and the inlet water temperature

remains constant at 40 oC. Assume a

controller turns off the water flow whenever

the outlet temperature is less than the inlet

temperature.

Qu = Ac FR [S - UL (Tfi - Ta)]

34

HITEC University Taxila

Thermal Analysis of Flat Plate Solar Collectors

Example 4.5:--contd--

35

HITEC University Taxila

Thermal Analysis of Flat Plate Solar Collectors

Mean Fluid and Plate Temperature

To evaluate Collector performance, It is necessary to know UL and hfi

Both UL and hfi are to some degree functions of temperatures

Mean Fluid Temperature can be found by integrating Eq. 4.33A from zero to L

4.38

Solving this integration and substituting FR from Eq. (4.35), Tfm is:

4.39

Solving Eqs. (4.37) and (4.4), for the mean Plate Temp. (Tpm):

Qu = Ac FR [S - UL (Tfi - Ta)] Qu = Ac [S - UL (Tpm - Ta)]

⇒ 4.40

36

HITEC University Taxila

Thermal Analysis of Flat Plate Solar Collectors

There are many designs of Flat-plate Collectors

Here only one basic collector design “Sheet and tube solar water heater with parallel tubes

on the back of the plate” is analyzed

Fortunately, it is not necessary to develop a completely new analysis for each situation

Generalized relationships for the tube and sheet case apply to most collector designs

It is necessary to derive the appropriate form of the Collector Efficiency Factor F’ and Eqs.

(4.35 - 4.37) then can be used to predict the thermal performance

have to be modified slightly

Fig. 4.7a

37

HITEC University Taxila

Thermal Analysis of Flat Plate Solar Collectors

are mounted inside evacuated glass

tubes

Fig. 4.7d

Configuration of Fig. 4.7d is similar to

type a but with a single riser

Type e collecor is “down and back”

with a U-tube joining the two conduits

Fig. 4.7e

38

HITEC University Taxila

Thermal Analysis of Flat Plate Solar Collectors

Efficiency

Critical Radiation Level

Radiation level where the absorbed solar radiation and loss term are equal

This is obtained by setting the term in the right-hand side of Eq. (4.37) equal to 0

Critical Radiation Level, Gtc, is given by

Collector can provide useful output only when the

4.38 available radiation Gav is higher than the critical

one Gtc

Collector output can be written in terms of the critical radiation level:

Qu = Ac FR (τα)av(GT – GTc)+ 4.39

o Eq. 4.39 indicate that for the collector to produce useful out put, i.e, Qu > 0, absorbed

radiation must exceed the thermal losses and GT must be greater than GTC

oThis implies that there is a Controller on the collector that shutts off the flow of fluid

when the value in parentheses is not positive

Department of Mechanical Engineering

39

HITEC University Taxila

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