Parabolic trough collectors are economically and technically attractive options for process heat applications that require temperatures in excess of 200 °C. One of the reasons is that low-cost non-evacuated receivers are used in this type of application. However, at higher temperatures, the performance of non-evacuated receivers deteriorates considerably due to excessive radiation and natural convection losses. A new idea had been preliminarily investigated by the authors both numerically and experimentally. The idea was to introduce a thermally insulating layer to the part of the receiver’s annular gap that does not receive concentrated sunlight from the parabolic mirrors, and the results had been quite promising. This paper presents additional, more extensive experiments on this concept. In these experiments, a cartridge heater is inserted along the axis of the receiver tube of a non-evacuated receiver. The heater is surrounded by a conductive material to ensure uniform heating of the receiver tube. A number of thermocouples are affixed near the inner surface of the receiver as well as on the outer surface of the glass envelope to monitor temperature uniformity. Two sets of experiments are then conducted, one with the insulating layer, and the other without. In each set, the power input is set to a certain level and the receiver temperature is measured once steady state conditions are attained. The power level is then increased, and the measurements are repeated. The heat loss values from each set are compared to determine whether adding the insulating layer enhances receiver performance. Results show that a reduction in heat loss of as much as 15% can be achieved using this design, and collector efficiency can increase by up to about 6%. However, it was also found that the extent of improvement in collector efficiency depends on the operating temperature and direct normal irradiance, with the improvement being more significant at higher temperature applications and at low direct normal irradiance.

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