Flux distribution around the parabolic trough receiver being typically non-uniform, only a certain portion of the receiver circumference receives the concentrated solar irradiance. However, radiative and convective losses occur across the entire receiver circumference. This paper attempts to introduce the idea employing transparent heat mirror to effectively reduce the heat loss area and thus improve the thermal efficiency of the solar collector. Transparent heat mirror essentially has high transmissivity in the solar irradiance wavelength band and high reflectivity in the mid-infrared region thus it allows the solar irradiance to pass through but reflects the infrared radiation back to the solar selective metal tube. Practically, this could be realized if certain portion of the conventional low iron glass envelope is coated with Sn-In2O3 so that its acts as a heat mirror.
In the present study, a parabolic receiver design employing the aforesaid concept has been proposed. Detailed heat transfer model has been formulated. The results of the model were compared with the experimental results of conventional concentrating parabolic trough solar collectors in the literature. It was observed that while maintaining the same external conditions (such as ambient/initial temperatures, wind speed, solar insolation, flow rate, concentration ratio etc.) the heat mirror-based parabolic trough concentrating solar collector has about 3–12% higher thermal efficiency as compared to the conventional parabolic solar collector. Furthermore, steady state heat transfer analysis reveals that depending on the solar flux distribution there is an optimum circumferential angle (θ = θoptimum, where θ is the heat mirror circumferential angle) up to which the glass envelope should be coated with Sn-In2O3. For angles higher than the optimum angle, the collector efficiency tends to decrease owing to increase in optical losses.