Using reflux solar receivers to collect solar energy for dish-Stirling electric power generation systems is presently being investigated by several organizations, including Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, N. Mex. In support of this program, Sandia has developed two numerical models describing the thermal performance of pool-boiler and heat-pipe reflux receivers. Both models are applicable to axisymmetric geometries and they both consider the radiative and convective energy transfer within the receiver cavity, the conductive and convective energy transfer from the receiver housing, and the energy transfer to the receiver working fluid. The primary difference between the models is the level of detail in modeling the heat conduction through the receiver walls. The more detailed model uses a two-dimensional finite control volume method, whereas the simpler model uses a one-dimensional thermal resistance approach. The numerical modeling concepts presented are applicable to conventional tube-type solar receivers, as well as to reflux receivers. Good agreement between the two models is demonstrated by comparing the predicted and measured performance of a pool-boiler reflux receiver being tested at Sandia. For design operating conditions, the receiver thermal efficiencies agree within 1 percent and the average receiver cavity temperature within 1.3 percent. The thermal efficiency and receiver temperatures predicted by the simpler thermal resistance model agree well with experimental data from on-sun tests of the Sandia reflux pool-boiler receiver. An analysis of these comparisons identifies several plausible explanations for the differences between the predicted results and the experimental data.

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