Design of a novel solar thermal collector using a multi-criteria decision-making methodology

Nixon, Jonathan D, Dey, P.K. and Davies, P.A. (2013) Design of a novel solar thermal collector using a multi-criteria decision-making methodology. Journal of Cleaner Production, 59, pp. 150-159. ISSN (print) 0959-6526


Three novel solar thermal collector concepts derived from the Linear Fresnel Reflector (LFR) are developed and evaluated through a multi-criteria decision-making methodology, comprising the following techniques: Quality Function Deployment (QFD), the Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) and the Pugh selection matrix. Criteria are specified by technical and customer requirements gathered from Gujarat, India. The concepts are compared to a standard LFR for reference, and as a result, a novel ‘Elevation Linear Fresnel Reflector’ (ELFR) concept using elevating mirrors is selected. A detailed version of this concept is proposed and compared against two standard LFR configurations, one using constant and the other using variable horizontal mirror spacing. Annual performance is analysed for a typical meteorological year. Financial assessment is made through the construction of a prototype. The novel LFR has an annual optical efficiency of 49% and increases exergy by 13–23%. Operational hours above a target temperature of 300 °C are increased by 9–24%. A 17% reduction in land usage is also achievable. However, the ELFR suffers from additional complexity and a 16–28% increase in capital cost. It is concluded that this novel design is particularly promising for industrial applications and locations with restricted land availability or high land costs. The decision analysis methodology adopted is considered to have a wider potential for applications in the fields of renewable energy and sustainable design.

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