Type of Solar Collectors

Type of Solar Collectors

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Classification of solar collectors
⦁ The classification is based on the way they collect solar radiation. The non-concentrating type absorbs the radiation as it is received on the surface of the collector while the concentrating type first increases the concentration of radiation per unit area before absorbing it.
⦁ Further, based on the technique employed for concentration of radiation, the concentrating type is further categorized into focus and non-focus types. The focus type is further subdivided into line and point focus depending on the focusing method.
⦁ While non-focus type collectors consume both beam and diffuse radiation, the focus type collectors make use of beam radiation only, as diffuse radiation cannot be concentrated.
⦁ The important features of a solar collector are:
⦁ Collector efficiency: It is defined as the ratio of the energy actually absorbed by the collector to the energy incident on the collector.
⦁ Concentration ratio (CR): It is the ratio of the area of the aperture of the system to the area of the receiver. The aperture of the system is the projected area of the collector facing the beam.
⦁ Temperature range: It is the range of temperature to which the heat transport fluid is heated by the collector.
⦁ Non-concentrating collector or flat plate collector
⦁ In it, the area of a collector to catch the solar radiation is equal to the absorber plate. Here no optical system is used to reduce the solar radiation and therefore the concentration ratio is just 1.
⦁ Flat plate collector is the most substantial component of any solar thermal energy system. It is basically a heat exchanger which transfers the radiant energy of the incident sunlight to the sensible heat of a working fluid-liquid or air.
⦁ Flat plate collectors are designed for operation in the low temperature range, from ambient to 60˚C, or the medium temperature range, from ambient to 100˚C.
⦁ The constructional details of a simple flat plate collector are shown in Fig. 1.2.

Construction of flat plate collector
Basic elements of a flat plate collector:
⦁ Transparent cover (one or two sheets) of glass or radiation transmitting plastic film.
⦁ Blackened absorber plate usually of copper, aluminium or steel, typically 1-2mm thick.
⦁ Tubes (typically 1-2 cm DIA.), passages or channels, in thermal contact with the absorber plate or connected to it.
⦁ Thermal insulation usually of fiberglass or expended polystyrene, typically 5-10cm in thickness is provided at the back and sides to minimize the heat losses.
⦁ Tight container or casing to insert the above ingredients.
Working of flat plate collector:
⦁ As solar radiation impinges on specially treated metallic absorber plate, it is absorbed and increases its temperature.

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This heat is transferred to a heat transfer fluid circulating in the tube below the absorber plate and in intimate contact with it.
⦁ Thermal insulation inhibits heat loss from the rear surface of the collector. The glass cover permits the short wavelength radiation to fall on absorber plate, but is largely opaque to the longer infrared radiation reflected from the absorber.
⦁ As a result, the heat remains trapped in the airspace between the glass cover and absorber plate in a manner similar to the greenhouse effect. The glass cover also inhibits heat loss due to convection by keeping the air stagnant.
⦁ The glass cover may reflect some 15% of incoming solar radiation, which can be controlled by applying anti-reflective coating on the outer surface of the glass.
⦁ It absorbs direct, diffuse and reflected components of solar radiation.
⦁ It is fixed in tilt and orientation and, thus, there is no need of tracking the sun.
⦁ It operates at comparatively high efficiencies.
⦁ It is simple in design and is low in cost.
⦁ It requires little maintenance and possesses long life.
⦁ Large heat losses by conduction and radiation because of large area.
⦁ Low water temperature is achieved.
⦁ Freezing in the collector tubes in the cold climate during cold nights
⦁ Corrosion of the metal tubes, if water is used as a working fluid.
⦁ Concentrating Collectors
⦁ A concentrating collector is a special form of flat plate collector improved by introducing a reflecting (or refracting) surface (concentrator) between the solar radiations and the absorber. It is used to collect solar energy with high intensity of solar radiation on the absorbing surface. Such collectors generally utilize an optical system in the form of reflectors or refractors.
⦁ The orientation of the sun from earth changes from time to time. So to harness maximum solar energy it is essential to keep our collector facing in the sun ray's direction. This is the reason why orientation in concentrating collector is needed. This is achieved by using tracking devices.
⦁ These collectors are employed in medium (100-300̊ C) and high-temperature (above 300̊ C) applications such as steam production for the generation of electricity.
⦁ The efficiency of these collectors lies between 50-70%. The collectors require more maintenance than flat plate collectors because of their optical system.
⦁ It has a smaller absorber area which gives a high concentration ratio.
⦁ Reflecting surface requires less material.
⦁ Structurally simpler than flat plate collectors.
⦁ It has less thermal heat losses.
⦁ System’s efficiency increases at high temperatures.
⦁ Inexpensive process.
⦁ It can be used for electrical power generation.
⦁ It has a high capital investment.
⦁ It collects only beam radiation components..
⦁ It needs a costly oriented system.
⦁ High maintenance cost.
⦁ Non-uniform flux on the absorber.

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