Computational fluid dynamics for concentrating solar power systems


  • The author has declared no conflicts of interest in relation to this article.


Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) can be used to better understand complex processes and to improve designs and system performance in concentrating solar power (CSP) applications. Applications presented in this paper include CFD simulations for collectors, thermal receivers, and thermal storage technologies. CFD simulations of wind flow around collectors such as parabolic troughs and heliostats have been used to determine wind loads, which impact the design and requirements of the support structure. Simulations of the heat transfer and heat loss in solar thermal receivers have been performed to identify designs that optimize thermal efficiency, and to better understand radiative, convective, and conductive heat losses. CFD models have also been developed to understand processes in thermal storage systems, including mixing in thermoclines, heat transfer in solid media, and melting and solidification processes in phase-change materials. Researchers have generally concluded that CFD modeling is a useful and cost-effective tool to understand processes and improve designs for CSP systems.