Optimizing Solar Collectors Using COMSOL Multiphysics® - Archived

Originally aired on 
June 27, 2024

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Solar collectors, particularly single- and double-pass designs, are key for sustainable and efficient energy solutions. Single-pass collectors allow fluid to flow through the absorber once, while double-pass systems facilitate the fluid to flow twice the length of the collector, significantly enhancing the thermal efficiency. The incorporation of fins and baffles on the absorber plate further improves heat transfer by increasing the surface area and inducing fluid turbulence. Fins expand the heat-absorbing surface, while baffles disrupt fluid flow, promoting better mixing and higher heat transfer rates. Heat transfer within these collectors involves both conduction in solids and convection in fluids, with the absorber plate conducting heat from absorbed solar radiation to the working fluid. Understanding the interplay between these modes is crucial for optimizing efficiency. Fluid flow within the collectors can be laminar or turbulent, depending on the design and flow rate. Laminar flow is smooth and orderly, leading to lower heat transfer rates, whereas turbulent flow, characterized by chaotic motion, enhances heat transfer due to greater fluid mixing and disruption of thermal boundary layers. Radiative heat transfer plays a significant role, especially in collectors with semitransparent materials that partially transmit solar radiation while participating in thermal radiation absorption and emission.

Accurate modeling of radiation in such media is essential for predicting performance. Surface-to-surface radiation, involving the exchange of thermal radiation between surfaces within the collector, is also critical in determining thermal balance and efficiency, as surfaces continuously absorb, reflect, and emit radiation. Understanding these complex interactions is essential for the design and optimization of efficient solar collectors. Building a model with the COMSOL Multiphysics® software provides a comprehensive approach to studying these factors and developing high-performance solar energy systems.

In this webinar, Dr. Punyadarshini Punam Tripathy, associate professor at the Department of Agricultural and Food Engineering at IIT Kharagpur, will discuss the simulation of various collector designs along with the steps involved in computational model development, prototyping, and experimental testing of the developed system. The webinar will conclude with a live demonstration of design development and simulation procedure.

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Archived Webinar Details

This is a recording of a webinar that originally aired on June 27, 2024


Dr. Punyadarshini Punam Tripathy Department of Agricultural and Food Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, India

Dr. Punyadarshini Punam Tripathy currently works as an associate professor in the Department of Agricultural and Food Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, India. She received her B.Tech and M.Tech degrees in agricultural engineering from Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT), Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India. She was a gold medalist in her M.Tech program. She later received her PhD from the Centre for Energy Studies, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, where she worked on solar thermal engineering. Dr. Tripathy has also worked as a postdoctoral research fellow in the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Waterloo, Canada.

Dr. Tripathy's research interests include solar energy utilization in food processing, process modeling and simulation, heat and mass transfer analysis, 3D printing, and novel thermal and nonthermal technologies. She has published research papers in international journals of repute and has two patents to her credit. One of her research articles has been identified as a key scientific article contributing to excellence in energy research by the Renewable Energy Global Innovations series, Canada.