Performance Investigation of a Nanofluid-Based Parabolic Trough Solar Collector

  • Devander KumarEmail author
  • Sheela Kumari
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Mechanical Engineering book series (LNME)


The present study is performed with the aim to investigate the simple methods of performance enhancement of parabolic trough collector (PTC). Nanofluid proposes exclusive advantages over conventional fluids due to their unique physical properties. In this manuscript, the thermal performance of PTC integrated with the storage tank is investigated experimentally using 0.0 and 0.1 wt% nanofluids based on the multi-walled carbon nanotube (MWCNT) particles. A nanofluid based on the MWCNT particles using triple deionized water as a base fluid is prepared and used as the working fluid in addition to the water for performance investigation. The performance has been evaluated in terms of useful heat gain, collector thermal efficiency, rise in water temperature within the storage tank, charging, and overall efficiency of system. Experimental results showed that the performance of the collector is improved using nanofluid as a working fluid in comparison to the water and average gain in thermal efficiency is achieved to be about 3% higher with nanofluid. The maximum charging efficiency of the system is found to be 62 and 59% with MWCNT nanofluid and water, respectively.


MWCNT nanofluid Parabolic trough collector Thermal efficiency Charging and overall efficiency 



\( A_{\text{a}} \)

Aperture area (m2)

\( C_{\text{pf}} \)

Specific heat of flowing fluid at mean temperature (J/kg K)

\( C_{{{\text{p}},{\text{bf}}}} \)

Specific heat of base fluid (J/kg K)

\( C_{{{\text{p}},{\text{nf}}}} \)

Specific heat of nanofluid (J/kg K)

\( C_{{{\text{p}},{\text{np}}}} \)

Specific heat of nanoparticles (J/kg K)

\( C_{{{\text{p}},{\text{st}}}} \)

Specific heat of stored fluid (J/kg K)

\( D_{\text{ai}} \)

Inner diameter of absorber (m)

\( D_{\text{ao}} \)

Outer diameter of absorber (m)

\( D_{\text{ci}} \)

Inner diameter of glass cover (m)

\( D_{\text{co}} \)

Outer diameter of glass cover (m)

\( E_{\text{co}} \)

Collected energy (J)

\( E_{\text{st}} \)

Stored energy (J)


Focal length (m)


Height of inner storage tank (m)


Solar beam radiation on aperture plane of PTC (W/m2)


Collector length (m)


Supporting rod length (m)

\( \dot{m} \)

Mass flow rate of working fluid (kg/s)


Stored mass of fluid within the storage tank (kg)

\( \dot{Q}_{\text{u}} \)

Useful energy extracted (W)

\( S_{\text{a}} \)

Arc length of parabola (m)

\( T_{\text{fi}} \)

Inlet temperature of fluid (°C)

\( T_{\text{fo}} \)

Exit temperature of fluid (°C)


Temperature difference between exit and inlet of receiver (°C)

\( T_{\text{st}} \)

Fluid temperature in storage tank (°C)

\( w_{\text{I}} \)

Error in solar beam irradiance (%)

\( w_{\text{m}} \)

Error in mass flow rate (%)

\( w_{\Delta T} \)

Error in temperature rise in the receiver (%)

\( w_{\eta } \)

Error in thermal efficiency of collector (%)

\( W_{\text{a}} \)

Aperture width (m)


Half of aperture width (m)


Height of thermocouples from base of inner storage tank (m)


Depth of parabola from focal axis (m)



At any instant time

\( k + 1 \)

One hour period after kth time





Greek Symbols

\( \phi_{\text{r}} \)

Rim angle (°) chosen as 90°

\( \eta_{\text{I}} \)

Instantaneous thermal efficiency

\( \eta_{\text{ch}} \)

Charging efficiency

\( \eta_{\text{ov}} \)

Overall efficiency


Ball bearing diameter (m)


Inner collar diameter (m)


Outer collar diameter (m)


Supporting rod diameter (m)


Volume fraction of nanoparticles in nanofluid


  1. 1.
    Sokhansefat T, Kasaeian AB, Kowsary F (2014) Heat transfer enhancement in parabolic trough collector tube using Al2O3/synthetic oil nanofluid. Renew Sustain Energy Rev 33:636–644CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Kalogirou S, Lloyd S (1992) Use of solar parabolic trough collectors for hot water production in Cyprus—a feasibility study. Renewable Energy 2:117–124CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Fernandez-Garcia A, Zarza E, Valenzuela L, Perez M (2010) Parabolic-trough solar collectors and their applications. Renew Sustain Energy Rev 14:1695–1721CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Arasu AV, Sornakumar T (2007) Design, manufacture and testing of fiberglass reinforced parabola trough for parabolic trough solar collectors. Sol Energy 81:1273–1279CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Zhu QZ, Cui Y, Mu LJ, Tang LQ (2013) Characterization of thermal radiative properties of nanofluids for selective absorption of solar radiation. Int J Thermophys 34:2307–2321CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Choi SUS, Eastman JA (1995) Enhancing thermal conductivity of fluids with nanoparticles. ASME international mechanical engineering congress & exposition, November 12–17, San Francisco, CAGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Choi SUS (1998) Nanofluid technology: current status and future research. US: Korea-U.S. Technical conference on strategic technologies. Vienna, VAGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Masuda H, Ebata A, Teramae K, Hishinuma N (1993) Alteration of thermal conductivity and viscosity of liquid by dispersing ultra-fine particles (dispersion of g-Al2O3, SiO2 and TiO2 ultra-fine particles). Netsu Bussei (Japan) 7:227–233CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Choi SUS, Eastman JA (2001) Enhanced heat transfer using nanofluids. 6221, 275, U.S. PatentGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Lotfi R, Rashidi AM, Amrollahi A (2012) Experimental study on the transfer enhancement of MWNT-water nanofluid in a shell and tube heat exchanger. Int Commun Heat Mass Transf 39:108–111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Taylor RA et al (2011) Applicability of nanofluids in high flux solar collectors. J Renew Sustain Energy 3:023104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Khullar V, Tyagi H, Patrick E, Phelan PE, Otanicar T, Singh H et al (2012) Solar energy harvesting using nanofluids-based concentrating solar collector. J Nanotechnol Eng Med 3:031003–2Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Kasaeian A, Daviran S, Azarian RD, Rashidi A (2015) Performance evaluation and nanofluid using capability study of a solar parabolic trough collector. Energy Convers Manag 89:368–375CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Li XF, Zhu DS, Wang XJ (2007) Evaluation on dispersion behavior of the aqueous copper nano-suspensions. J Colloid Interface Sci 310:456–463CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Heiti RV, Thodos G (1983) An experimental parabolic cylindrical concentrator: its construction and thermal performance. Sol Energy 30(5):483–485CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Kumar D, Kumar S (2017) Thermal performance of the solar parabolic trough collector at different flow rates: an experimental study. Int J Ambient Energy.
  17. 17.
    Zhang X, Gu H, Fujii M (2006) Effective thermal conductivity and thermal diffusivity of nanofluids containing spherical and cylindrical nanoparticles. J Appl Phys 100:044325CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Touloukian YS, Kirby RK, Taylor RE et al (1970) Thermophysical properties of matters: specific heat, nonmetallic solids. Plenum, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Kumar DS (2000) Mechanical measurements and control, 3rd ed. Metropolitan Book Co. Pvt. Ltd., New DelhiGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd.AhmedabadIndia
  2. 2.Indian Institute of TechnologyRoorkeeIndia

Personalised recommendations