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​​Solar Collector Modeling and Wind Fence Analysis Computational Fluid Dynamics CFD at MRIGlobal 

CFD Analysis for Solar Industry Applications
Defense Enegry Health

 

MRIGlobal has developed and validated a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modeling protocol specifically to predict the effects of atmospheric wind conditions on parabolic trough solar collectors.  MRIGlobal's analysis is tailored to be site-specific and includes effects of surrounding landscape and buildings to ensure the highest degree of model accuracy.  In addition to wind load estimation, our approach can also be utilized to design and optimize wind break systems as well as perform detailed finite element analysis (FEA) structural analyses on the supporting frame.  ​

 

Parabolic Trough Solar Collector Modeling focal point Industrial Heat and Power Generation MRIGlobal 

Parabolic trough solar collectors consist of an elongated parabolic-shaped mirror and are used to concentrate solar radiation on a thermal collector located at the parabolic focal point.  Parabolic trough collectors are a proven technology with multiple industrial heat and power generation systems currently in operation.

 

 

 



Parabolic Trough Solar Collector Streamlines Solar Industry Analysis CFD Computational Fluid Dynamics Modeling MRIGlobal

Parabolic Trough Solar Collector Streamlines Solar Industry Analysis CFD Computational Fluid Dynamics Modeling MRIGlobal 

Streamlines illustrate atmospheric boundary layer airflows near an isolated parabolic trough. Note the flow separation and the large turbulent vortex on the downwind side of the collector.

 

 


CircleGroup-SolarAnalysis.png

​Validated Models

MRIGlobal's unique modeling approach has been validated with the experimental wind tunnel data published in Hosoya et al.'s 2008 NREL Subcontract Report: "Wind Tunnel Tests of Parabolic Trough Solar Collectors."  

 

Wind Tunnel Data Computational Fluid Dynamics CFD Wind Fence Analysis MRIGlobal Wind Tunnel Data Computational Fluid Dynamics CFD Wind Fence Analysis MRIGlobal 

Wind Tunnel Data Computational Fluid Dynamics CFD Wind Fence Analysis MRIGlobal 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MRIGlobal's CFD model accurately predicts experimental wind tunnel data over a range of parameters. CFD results – solid line with filled circles; wind tunnel mean and error – open circles with error bars; wind tunnel maximum and minimum measured values – dotted lines with + and x symbols,  respectively.


Solar Array Aerodynamic Load Predictions

The collectors are typically located several feet above ground level and are exposed to the turbulent wind conditions of the atmospheric boundary layer.  The frame of the collector's support structure is a very important design consideration as it must support the aerodynamic loads. Even in modest wind conditions, atmospheric turbulence and vortex shedding effects can lead to unwanted structural deformations and vibrations.  These structural vibrations are significant because they can impact solar collection efficiency by disturbing the focus of solar radiation on the parabolic focal point.


Why MRIGlobal?

Industry Experience

MRIGlobal has significant experience managing and performing large and small computational analysis studies for a range of client needs.  No matter the size of the project, a dedicated MRIGlobal engineer will work closely with the client to develop and execute an appropriate analysis.  Please contact us to discuss detailed analysis and interpretation options for your specific projects.


State-of-the-Art Software
and Hardware

MRIGlobal uses state-of-the-art
commercial CFD software ANSYS
Fluent® to analyze complex airflow
and environmental control problems. 
Large multi-scale and multi-physics
problems are solved using MRIGlobal's
in-house high-performance
computational facilities.


Reduce Costs and Save Time

Computational analysis helps guide
the design process and identify
problems before they happen. 
These virtual tests help reduce
costs and time by allowing project
managers to make physics-based decisions.


Expert Staff

MRIGlobal has personnel trained
and dedicated to employing
computational fluid dynamics for
engineering design analysis and
fundamental research.  MRIGlobal
staff are also available to serve
as third-party reviewers for
computational analysis studies.


 Array Aerodynamic Load Predictions MRIGlobal Computational Fluid Dynamics CFD

 Array Aerodynamic Load Predictions MRIGlobal Computational Fluid Dynamics CFD

Industrial systems often consist of multiple collectors which are organized in long rows and have aperture lengths of several meters. 

 


        

 

               

                 

Site Specific Analysis

MRIGlobal's analysis of parabolic trough collectors is tailored to be site specific. That is, the effects of the topography of the local terrain, surrounding buildings, wind fences, trees, etc., are all included to ensure the highest degree of model accuracy when calculating the aerodynamic loads on collectors. 

 

 Site-Specific-Analysis-MRIGlobal-Computational-Fluid-Dymics.png

MRIGlobal routinely develops site-specific large-scale CFD models to predict atmospheric airflows through industrial sites.  Careful attention is paid to structures and topography that may affect airflows over the site and near the parabolic trough collectors.

 

 

​​Aerodynamic Load-Reduction Strategies

Various aerodynamic load-reduction strategies may be employed including constructing a surrounding porous wind fence and/or changing the shape/design of the mirrored collector itself.  MRIGlobal is able to utilize our validated model to rapidly and confidently assess a wide variety of load-reduction strategies. 

 

Aerodynamic-Load-Reduction-Strategies-with-MRIGlobal-Comuptational-Fluid-Dynamics1.png 

Aerodynamic-Load-Reduction-Strategies-with-MRIGlobal-Comuptational-Fluid-Dynamics2.png 

Porous wind fences provide privacy, help control fugitive dust transport, reduce convective heat transfer losses, and reduce the aerodynamic loads on the solar trough. 

 

 

 PourousWindFence_AerodynamicLoadReductionStrategies.png

A commercially available 24% porous wind fence is predicted to reduce aerodynamic loads on the trough by 75-85%.  Note that the presence of an upwind wind fence helps eliminate the large turbulent vortex on the downwind side of the collector.

 

Structural Analysis and
Impact on Efficiency

Finite element analysis (FEA) involves determining the response of complex structures to various loadings.  MRIGlobal's ability to accurately quantify the aerodynamic loads allows a more accurate structural analysis.  MRIGlobal utilizes state-of-the-art FEA software ANSYS Mechanical® to perform stress and deformation analyses, vibration analyses, and to investigate fluid-structure interactions due to the effect of the wind forces on the parabolic trough and frame.  The results of the structural analysis, along with radiation models, allow MRIGlobal to predict the impact that structural deformations will have on the trough's solar collection efficiency. 

 

 MRIGlobal-FEA-structural-analysis-on-CFD-based-aerodynamic-loads_1.pngMRIGlobal-FEA-structural-analysis-on-CFD-based-aerodynamic-loads_2.png

The CFD based aerodynamic loads are utilized to perform an FEA structural analysis on the system.

 

 

Why MRIGlobal?

Industry Experience

MRIGlobal has significant experience managing and performing large and small computational analysis studies for a range of client needs. No matter the size of the project, a dedicated MRIGlobal engineer will work closely with the client to develop and execute an appropriate analysis. Please contact us to discuss detailed analysis and interpretation options for your specific projects.


State-of-the-Art Software
and Hardware

MRIGlobal uses state-of-the-art commercial CFD software ANSYS Fluent® to analyze complex airflow and environmental control problems. Large multi-scale and multi-physics problems are solved using MRIGlobal's in-house high-performance computational facilities.


Reduce Costs and Save Time

Computational analysis helps guide the design process and identify problems before they happen. These virtual tests help reduce costs and time by allowing project managers to make physics-based decisions.


Expert Staff

MRIGlobal has personnel trained and dedicated to employing computational fluid dynamics for engineering design analysis and fundamental research. MRIGlobal staff are also available to serve as third-party reviewers for computational analysis studies.




Get in touch with us!

MRIGlobal Headquarters
425 Volker Boulevard,
Kansas City,
Missouri 64110-2241

General Information: (816) 753-7600  / Locations

How can we help you? Email us!
info@mriglobal.org

For MRIGlobal's Solar Industry Modeling and Analysis capabilities,
please contact:

Kris Schumacher, Ph.D., Principal Engineer
816.326.5042  |   kschumacher@mriglobal.org

John Stanley, Ph.D., Vice President, Corporate Business Development
816.360.5151  |   jstanley@mriglobal.org

​ ​

For MRIGlobal's Solar Industry Modeling and Analysis capabilities,
please contact:

Kris Schumacher, Ph.D., Senior Engineer
816.326.5042  |   kschumacher@mriglobal.org

John Stanley, Ph.D., Vice President, Corporate Business Development
816.360.5151  |   jstanley@mriglobal.org