Natural Convection in Enclosed Spaces—A Review of Application to Solar Energy Collection

[+] Author and Article Information
H. Buchberg, I. Catton, D. K. Edwards

Energy and Kinetics Department, School of Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles, Calif.

J. Heat Transfer 98(2), 182-188 (May 01, 1976) (7 pages) doi:10.1115/1.3450516 History: Received December 29, 1975; Online August 11, 2010


A useful solar-thermal converter requires effective control of heat losses from the hot absorber to the cooler surroundings. Based upon the theory and some experimental measurements it is shown that the spacing between the tilted hot solar absorber and successive glass covers should be in the range 4–8 cm to assure minimum gap conductance. Poor choice of spacing can significantly affect thermal conversion efficiency, particularly when the efficiency is low or when selective black absorbers are used. Recommended data for gap Nusselt number are presented as a function of the Rayleigh number for the high aspect ratios of interest in solar collector designs. It is also shown that a rectangular cell structure placed over a solar absorber is an effective device to suppress natural convection, if designed with the proper cell spacing d, height to spacing ratio L/d and width to spacing ratio W/d needed to give a cell Rayleigh number less than the critical value.

Copyright © 1976 by ASME
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