Design and Fabrication of Parabolic Solar Collector – Mechanical Project

Design and Fabrication of Parabolic Solar Collector – Mechanical Project


Solar Energy is a renewable source of energy. Its uses do not contribute to emission of greenhouse gases and other pollutants to the environment. It is sustainable since it cannot be depleted in a time relevant to the human race. In this paper, the potential for a solar- thermal system for hot water generation has been studied. A parabolic trough concentrator is made of an aluminum sheet which is covered by a cloth on which rectangular mirror strips (1.20mx 0.05m) are pasted. Two different absorber tubes were taken and the efficiencies of the PTSC where compared without glass cover on the absorber tubes. They were designed with principal focus at 0.3m so that the receiver heat loss was minimized the microstructure and a low amount of defects.

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The cost of power production through solar has reduced considerably but still the levelized cost of solar is four times that of supercritical coal.Increasing the efficiency of solar collectors can reduce the aggravation of this problem.

Heat transfer characteristics of solar collectors can be improved by increasing the thermal conductivity of the working fluid. Advancement in nanotechnology has shown that by suspending finer particles (Metals, Metal oxides, Nanotubes etc.)can significantly increase the thermal conductivity of the base fluid.

The term nanofluid was coined by Choi in 1995 at the annual winter meeting of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers where he presented the possibility of doubling the convection heat transfer coefficients using nano-fluids.

Herisetal observed an increase of about 40% in heat transfer by conducting experiments with the Al2O3 and CuO nanoparticles suspended in water under laminar flow.
Tyagi et al studied theoretically found the effect of volume fraction on heat transfer using a mixture of water and aluminium by varying the concentration from 0.1 % to 5% in an direct absorption solar collector. They found a significant increasein efficiency for low volume fractions of nanoparticles, and also for values higher than 2% the efficiency levels even out.

parabolic collector
parabolic collector

In 2010, Otanicar et al made a similar study on the effect of different nanofluids such as carbon nanotubes, graphite and silver on the performances of a micro scale direct absorption solar collector. However they observed a remarkable increase in the efficiency up to 0.5% volume fraction. He also concluded that with decreasing size of nanoparticles there was increase in the efficiency.


1. To enhance the heat transfer in a parabolic trough solar collector by using ZnO/water as nanofluid with different volumetric concentrations and flow rates, in free and forced convection system.

2. To determine the empirical correlation for both free and forced convection.

Description of Parabolic Trough Concentrator

A parabolic trough concentrator consists of a reflecting surface mounted on a reflector support structure having the profile of a parabola. A receiver assembly comprising a circular absorber tube with suitable selective coating and enclosed in a concentric glass envelope is centered along the reflector focal line. Maintain focusing of solar radiation on the receiver assembly. The incident energy is absorbed by a working fluid circulating through the absorber tube.


Forced Convection:

Forced convection occurs when the streams and currents in the fluid are induced by external means such as fans, stirrers, and pumps creating an artificially induced convection current.

Free Convection:

In this type of convection, the movement of particles which constitutes convection occurs by the variation in density of the fluid. As we already know, as temperature increases, the density decreases and this variation in density will force the fluid to move through the volume. This causes convection to occur

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Different components are connected accordingly.

  1. The pump is switched on and any leakage is checked
  2. The ball valve is adjusted to required position and flow rate is measured in case of forced convection. For free convection, the valve was completely on.
  3. Initial temperatures of fluid in reservoir and sink tanks are measured.
  4. The temperature of fluids is again measured at regular interval.
  5. The experiment is conducted for 6-8 hrs.
  6. For next trail, the position of ball valve is changed to vary the flow rate.
  7. The experiment is repeated and observations are tabulated.

Scope for Future Work:

1. Tracking Mechanism

2. Graphene Coating On Collector

3. Other Concentrations of ZnO nanofluid

4. Different nanofluids

5. Different flow rates in order to determine optimum flow rate

6. Multiple Collectors

7. Structural Analysis Of Nano Particles

8. Varying the size of nanoparticles


1. From the experimentation it was found that there was an increase of 34.6% in the final temperature reached by the reservoir. By water it was seen that the maximum temperature reached was 41.5oC but by using nanofluid temperatures up to 52oC was reached.

2. By the addition of nanoparticles to the base fluid the thermal conductivity value of the base fluid is increased as shown in the calculations where as the specific heat value decreases i.e. there is increase in heat conduction but at the same time the temperature rise and fall takes place at a faster rate.


1. Bergman and Theodore L (2011), “Introduction to Heat Transfer”, 6th ed. Hoboken: Wiley, 2011. Print.

2. Duffie John A and William A (2006), “Beckman”, Solar Engineering of Thermal Processes. 3rd ed. Hoboken: Wiley, 2006. Print.

3. Eames P C (1999), “Modelling Line-Axis Solar Concentrators in the Medium Temperature Range”, Renewable Energy 16 (1999): 743-48. Elsevier.Web.

4. Feuermann, Daniel and Jeffrey M Gordon (1999), “Solar Fiber Optic Mini Dishes”, Solar Energy, Vol. 65, No. 3, pp. 159-70.

Project Done By Mr. Pavan Prasad H.G, Mr. Nikhil Singh Pundir, Mr. Pavan P.

Sachin Thorat

Sachin is a B-TECH graduate in Mechanical Engineering from a reputed Engineering college. Currently, he is working in the sheet metal industry as a designer. Additionally, he has interested in Product Design, Animation, and Project design. He also likes to write articles related to the mechanical engineering field and tries to motivate other mechanical engineering students by his innovative project ideas, design, models and videos.

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