A hydrogen producing solar reactor was experimentally tested to study the cyclone flow dynamics of the gas-particle two-phase phenomenon. Two dimensional PIV (particle image velocimetry) was used to observe the flow and to quantify the vortex formation inside the solar reactor. The vortex flow structure in the reactor was reconstructed by capturing images from orientations perpendicular and parallel to the geometrical axis of the reactor respectively. The experimental results showed that the tangential components of the fluid velocity formed a Rankine-vortex profile. The free vortex portions of the Rankine profile were synchronized and independent of the axial position. The axial components showed a vortex funnel of higher speed fluid supplied by a reversing secondary flow. According to the inlet channel design, the geometry dominates the flow dynamics. A stable precessing vortex line was observed. As the vortex flow evolves towards the exit, the vortex funnel expands radially with decreasing tangential velocity magnitude peak as a result of the vortex stretching. An optimal residence time of the flow was found by changing the cyclone flow inlet conditions. The swirl number versus the main flow rate change was obtained. Upon the completion of the experimental studies, a thorough numerical analysis was conducted to model the flow dynamics inside the solar reactor and to verify the results by comparison to the experimental results. Three turbulence models including the standard k-ε, k-ε RNG and Reynolds Stress Transport models were used. CFD simulations were coupled with heat transfer analysis via Discrete Ordinate model. Particle tracing in Lagrange frame was applied to simulate the particle trajectory. A comparison between the turbulence modeling results for the room temperature and high temperature cases, as well as the experimental results for room temperature cases is presented.

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