Numerical and experimental investigation of heat transfer in a solar receiver with a variable aperture

Mostafa Abuseada, Nesrin Ozalp, Cédric Ophoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Variable aperture can assist in maintaining semi-constant temperatures within a receiver's cavity under transient solar loading. An in-house code has been developed to model a receiver and effectively control its components to achieve semi-constant temperatures under transients. The code consists of a full optical analysis performed via the Monte Carlo ray tracing method in addition to a transient two-dimensional heat transfer analysis. The system studied consists of a cavity type solar receiver with 60 mm radius fixed aperture on the cavity body, a variable aperture mechanism mounted on the receiver's flange, and a 7 kW Xenon arc solar simulator. A composite shape consisting of a hemisphere attached to a cylinder is proposed to model the Xenon arc. The in-house code has been experimentally validated through experimental tests for different input currents to the solar simulator, volumetric flow rates, and aperture's radii. The optical analysis was validated based on heat flux measurements, where it had percentage errors of 0.8, 0.5, 1.1, and 3.2% for the peak power, total power, half width, and half power. For the heat transfer model, percentage errors of 3.2, 2.9, and 5.3% at the inlet, center, and outlet sections of the receiver were determined for different flow rates using maximum input current and opening radius. The aperture mechanism was capable of maintaining an exhaust temperature of 250 °C based on actual Direct Normal Irradiance data. Results showed that the variable aperture is a promising apparatus even in applications where the maximum temperatures are desired based on an observed optimum radius of 57.5 mm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-135
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer
StatePublished - Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The experimental part of this research has been funded by Impulse Fund project # IMP/14/049 of KU Leuven .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd


  • Monte Carlo ray tracing
  • Optical analysis
  • Radiation heat transfer
  • Solar receiver
  • Variable aperture


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