Gas-filled, flat plate solar collectors
Doctoral thesis, 2011
This work treats the thermal and mechanical performances of gas-filled, flat plate solar collectors in order to achieve a better performance than that of air filled collectors. The gases examined are argon, krypton and xenon which all have lower thermal conductivity than air. The absorber is formed as a tray connected to the glass. The pressure of the gas inside is near to the ambient and since the gas volume will vary as the temperature changes, there are potential risks for fatigue in the material.
One heat transfer model and one mechanical model were built. The mechanical model gave stresses and information on the movements. The factors of safety were calculated from the stresses, and the movements were used as input for the heat transfer model where the thermal performance was calculated.
It is shown that gas-filled, flat plate solar collectors can be designed to achieve good thermal performance at a competitive cost. The best yield is achieved with a xenon gas filling together with a normal thick absorber, where normal thick means a 0.25 mm copper absorber. However, a great deal of energy is needed to produce the xenon gas, and if this aspect is taken into account, the krypton filling is better. Good thermal performance can also be achieved using less material; a collector with a 0.1 mm thick copper absorber and the third best gas, which is argon, still gives a better operating performance than a common, commercially produced, air filled collector with a 0.25 mm absorber.
When manufacturing gas-filled flat plate solar collectors, one way of decreasing the total material costs significantly, is by changing absorber material from copper to aluminium. Best yield per monetary outlay is given by a thin (0.3 mm) alu-minium absorber with an argon filling. A high factor of safety is achieved with thin absorbers, large absorber areas, rectangular constructions with long tubes and short distances between glass and absorber. The latter will also give a thin layer of gas which gives good thermal performance. The only doubtii
ful construction is an argon filled collector with a normal thick (> 0.50 mm) aluminium absorber.
In general, an assessment of the stresses for the proposed construction together with appropriate tests are recommended before manufacturing, since it is hard to predict the factor of safety; if one part is reinforced, some other parts can experience more stress and the factor of safety actually drops.
EF, Hörsalsvägen 11, plan 6
Opponent: Jun.-Prof.Dr. Ulrike Jordan, Universität Kassel, Inst für Energietechnik, TYSKLAND