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Student Research Colloquium on

Advances in Engineering and Information Technology
(AIET-2016)
Design and Simulation of Solar Devices for Satellite Based
Application using Comsol Multiphysics
Tithi Desaia, Sumathi Ayyalusamya, Ravishankar Dudhea*
a
School of IT and Engineering, Manipal University, Dubai, UAE

Abstract

Solar photovoltaic (PV) cells are semiconductor devices that convert solar energy to electricity using
photovoltaic effect. These cells are commonly known as solar cells, or solar panels, and in 2012 around
93 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity was produced, which is enough to power over 20 million homes.
When designing solar panels, it is important all parameters are taken into account in order to minimize
the losses. In this paper we discuss two main solar energy generation devices namely Solar Dish receiver
and Solar panel array. We have varied various parameters of the solar dish array and simulated using
COMSOL Multiphysics how these parameters have an effect on the efficiency of the receiver. Also, we
have designed the model for solar array and simulated the effect of fluid flow load (wind speed 54km/hr)
on the solar panel efficiency.

Keywords: Solar dish receiver, solar arrays, heat flux, fluid flow load, comsol

1. Introduction

Use of solar technology has increased drastically in both domestic and industrial applications. This is
mainly due to the increased cost of electric supply and the desire to produce great amount of energy from
renewable sources. Based on their application these solar panels and dishes are produced in different sizes
and shapes. In industrial application, these panels are produced in array configuration, where each set
includes 3*4 or 2*3 panels close to each other with a small gap between them.
These panels are installed around 2 to 5 feet above the ground for ease of maintenance and air ventilation
purpose. Given the large surface area the aerodynamic forces acting on these modules could have a great
effect on the functioning of these panels. Hence the flow conditions and its interaction with the panel is
of interest to minimize the damage. [1,2,3]
In the past various studies have been made for solar arrays and fluid flow interaction. Chevalien and
Norton (1979) studied rows of solar panels on a model building in a wind tunnel and their sheltering
effects. Peterka et al (1980) carried out studies on Parabolic-Trough solar panels for industrial buildings.
Cochran (1992) worked on the frame loads for large arrays in turbulent boundary layer and how the gap
between panels might affect the aerodynamic loads on them. Kopp and Surry (2002) performed an
experimental research on the total system torque measured at the main drive gear box used for panel’s
solar tracking system. [4]

This is used to generate steam. of 45 deg. The experimental results are analysed to come up with conclusive and suggestive key point. For the solar array we will be investigating the following: Solving for the fluid flow around the solar panel.7] In this paper. and so the shape of the dish has the following form: . where the free stream velocity above the solar panel is 15 m/s or 54km/hr. we are simulating both the solar dish receiver and the solar panel array. Simulation Using Multiphysics To support the bottlenecks. Corrections due to the finite size of the sun.Dubai (2016) Solar dish collector is another power generation system. [6. efficiency and life-span. 3.1 Solar Dish receiver A paraboloid dish concentrates the solar energy received on a target (receiver). α. which can be used to power a generator. 1: a) A large parabolic dish collects incoming solar radiation and focuses it on a collector. we are seeing the flux intensity at the collector as a result of the parameters variation. Configuration 3. For the solar dish receiver. a number of sub steps are required to reach the final flow solution. (a) (b) Fig. causing very high heat fluxes. High and uniform temperature of receivers can prove beneficial for its reliability. or hydrogen. simulation plays an important role where study of different parameters can be done and we can see how the solar arrays and dish receivers react to these change in parameters. of 3 m is constructed using the Parametric Curve feature. COMSOL Multiphysics model has various physics that can be used to study various parameters and create realistic conditions to help the design engineer to tailor the parameters as per the required applications. Dr. In the model discussed in the paper. Ravishankar Dudhe/ SOE&IT. used directly as a fuel source. the heat flux arriving as a function of the radial position arriving on the receiver is computed.2 Tithi Desai.Manipal University. b) Comsol structure of solar dish receiver A parabolic solar dish with a focal length. It has excellent application base due to its high concentrated ratio and collection ability. 2. f. Studying the deformation of the solar panel caused by the fluid load. Due to the complexity of the flow field. surface roughness and limb darkening on the surface of the dish are considered. [5] The cavity receiver plays a very important role in the overall system as it aids in the solar-thermal conversion process. Non-uniform flux distribution can prove harmful to the system specially at high temperature solar thermal utilization as the cavity can get heated up and lead to partial crack and melting. The dish has a rim angle.

In the model we are assuming that enough panels are positioned both upstream and downstream of the panel for periodic flow conditions to be applicable in the stream wise direction. Seen from a position high above the ground. The parameters considered for simulation are: Rim angle of the dish receiver Focal length of the dish Collector height and width 3. resulting in a total of 540 x 20 x 20 = 216.000rays. there are 20 rays released in wave vector space to correct for limb darkening. For each release point.Manipal University. we have set the absorption coefficient to 0. the array of solar panels acts as a rough boundary for the atmospheric flow.Dubai (2016) (1) where s has the range : (2) Some of the incoming radiation is absorbed by the dish itself.2: The modeled solar panel (in red) located in a regular array of identical panels Fig. uniformly distributed over the surface of the solar dish.2 Solar Panel Periodic Flow Model The solar panel in question is located inside a regularly spaced array of panels subjected to an oncoming wind as shown in figure 2. Ravishankar Dudhe/ SOE&IT. Fig. and 20 rays in wave vector space to correct for surface roughness. In this model. 3: a) Front-view of the solar panel used in the fluid-flow simulation. Rays are released from 540 distinct points. Tithi Desai under the guidance of Dr.view of the solar panel including supports for the structural mechanics’ simulation . meaning that 90% of the incoming radiation is reflected. b) Back.1.

CH = 30mm Collector width. 5 Bar graph showing effect of various parameters on heat flux. the focal length becomes smaller and hence the heat flux on the collector surface reduces.4 Tithi Desai. Fig. Table 2: Orthogonal array for variation of parameters . Results and Discussion 4. 4 Heat flux on surface of receiver for a) α= 45° b) α= 15° We can see from the table that the heat flux changes a lot with change in the rim angle.5GPa (5% the stiffness of solid aluminum) and Poisson’s ratio of 0. CW= 100mm We change the rim angle from 15 degrees to 65 degrees and observe how the heat flux changes on the receiver. The yellow marked is the highest which indicates that absorption coefficient plays important role in determining the heat flux. fL = 3m Collector height.33. Table 2 shows the orthogonal array of the different parameters and figure 5 shows how it affects the heat flux. α= 45° Focal Length. Ravishankar Dudhe/ SOE&IT.Dubai (2016) The solar panel model is made of a material with stiffness of 3.1 Solar Dish Receiver Table 1.Variation of heat flux with α The initial values for the solar dish receiver are as follows Rim Angle.Manipal University. 4. Dr. Rim angle is inversely proportional to the heat flux. As we increase the rim angle. [8] (a) (b) Fig.

colored by turbulent kinetic energy normalized by kinetic energy in the free stream. As we can see. 6: Velocity streamlines. the center of which .4 m/s in the free stream. Figure 7(a) shows the surface pressure on the panel where we can see the maximum pressure points on the panel. In the simulation below a recirculation one is observed between the panels in the array. Fig.2 Solar Panel Periodic flow Figure 6 shows the flow-field solution around the solar panel for an inlet-to-outlet pressure difference of 1 Pa. the upper-right corner of the panel is exposed to the highest pressure and strongest winds. and in-plane velocity components 6 cm behind the panel.Dubai (2016) 4. 7: a) Surface fluid pressure contours present and in-plane velocity components 6 cm behind the panel.Manipal University. Ravishankar Dudhe/ SOE&IT. The flow field above the panel is of boundary layer type with a maximum velocity of about 15. Inlet to outlet pressure difference is 1 Pa. A large stream wise vortex is generated behind the panel. (a) (b) Fig. about 30 Pa. The flow is fast at the top of the panel (red streamlines) and slow in the turbulent flow of the recirculation zone (blue and green streamlines). b) Displacement of the solar panel structure due to the fluid flow load In the above figure 7a we can see that the maximum relative pressure. occurs in the panel’s upper-right corner. Tithi Desai under the guidance of Dr. After simulation we can see the flow field in the center plane of the solar panel using a surface plot combined with velocity vectors at the inlet and outlet.

Horia Hangan “Wind loading on solar panels at different inclination angles”. November. Figure 7b shows the displacement of the structure due to the flow of wind. It was shown that the rim angle has a significant effect on the heat flux of the collector in a solar dish receiver. 2009.(1927) 170-197 [2] L. 22-26 June. the fluid load on the structure at the current free stream velocity is not significant enough to dictate the design of the structure. 2008. Billy Anak Sup. He-Ping Tan. 5. Yongkai Quan. 2013. Manipal Dubai Management and Research Centre for supporting me with my project and providing me with the resources required for the successful completion of the project. Mohd. [6] Yong Shuai. the designer can optimize the parameters in designing complex solar dishes and panels. Largest displacement occurs in the upper right corner. Tanti ZanariahShamsirAli. the maximum displacement value is very small.Dubai (2016) is aligned with the panel’s outer side. Additional analyses and optimizations need to be carried out in order to see if the solar panel geometry discussed above could withstand stronger winds/pressure. Dr.Manipal University. [3] Mehrdad Shademan. Texas A&M University (1979). Farid Zainudin.35mm.Radiation performance of dish solar concentrator/cavity receiver systems. References [1] Fage. J. Xiang Luo and Haiwang Li. It also points in the direction that for a solar panel positioned inside a large array. Aerospace Engineering Department. Acknowledgements I would like to thank Manipal Institute of Technology (MIT). Rosli Abu Bakar.worldenergyoutlook. Absorption coefficient and rim angle are most important factors for the heat flux. 773.C. collector radius plays a minor role in the determination of the heat flux.116. [7] “Design and Optimization of a New Solar Dish Cavity Receiver/Absorber”. This indicates that the surrounding solar panels effectively shield the solar panel from oncoming flow. www.6 Tithi Desai. The change in collector height has no effect on the heat flux. [4] World Energy Outlook. Journal of Solar Energy 82(2008)13-21.On the Flow of Air behind an Inclined Flat Plate of Infinite Span. [8] “Effect of rim angle to the flux distribution diameter in solar parabolic dish collector”. the high pressure correlates with a high degree of deflection of the flow and formation of the stream wise vortex. Ravishankar Dudhe for guiding me through the project and helping me overcome the challenges faced during the execution of the project work. Ravishankar Dudhe/ SOE&IT.org/ [5] Concentrating solar power: its potential contribution to a sustainable energy future. Wind loads on solar collector panels and support structure. No. Guoqiang Xu. 2012. 2nd International Conference on Sustainable Energy Engineering and Application. However. Executive summary. Xin-Lin Xia. The European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC)policy report 16. about 0.Johanson. proceeding of 11th American Conference on Wind Engineering. Chevalien. we need to increase the durability of the solar panels. Gan Leong Ming. 3rd International Conference on Energy and Environmental Science. As the photovoltaic industry expands and solar panels become more and more energy efficient and cost effective.We also simulated the solar panel periodic flow conditions for 54km/hr. .Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Conclusions With COMSOL analysis of the solar energy structures. ICSEEA 2014. But as per the Taguchi analysis. like what would be experienced in a violent storm with winds of up to 117km/h. I would also like to thank Dr. At the upper-right corner. 2011. F. Norton. Ye Wang.