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Frontiers in Energy >> 2018, Volume 12, Issue 1 doi: 10.1007/s11708-018-0527-5

Effect of light scattering on the performance of a direct absorption solar collector

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Daejeon 34141, South Korea

Accepted: 2018-01-09 Available online: 2018-03-08

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Recently, a solar thermal collector often employs nanoparticle suspension to absorb the solar radiation directly by a working fluid as well as to enhance its thermal performance. The collector efficiency of a direct absorption solar collector (DASC) is very sensitive to optical properties of the working fluid, such as absorption and scattering coefficients. Most of the existing studies have neglected particle scattering by assuming that the size of nanoparticle suspension is much smaller than the wavelength of solar radiation (i.e., Rayleigh scattering is applicable). If the nanoparticle suspension is made of metal, however, the scattering cross-section of metallic nanoparticles could be comparable to their absorption cross-section depending on the particle size, especially when the localized surface plasmon (LSP) is excited. Therefore, for the DASC utilizing a plasmonic nanofluid supporting the LSP, light scattering from metallic particle suspension must be taken into account in the thermal analysis. The present study investigates the scattering effect on the thermal performance of the DASC employing plasmonic nanofluid as a working fluid. In the analysis, the Monte Carlo method is employed to numerically solve the radiative transfer equation considering the volume scattering inside the nanofluid. It is found that the light scattering can improve the collector performance if the scattering coefficient of nanofluid is carefully engineered depending on its value of the absorption coefficient.

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