As reported previously [7-9], a low profile (<10 cm height) solar thermal concentrating collector was designed and analysed which can potentially supply thermal energy in the 100-250 °C range (an application currently met by gas and electricity). The present study focuses on the design and experimental investigation of a nanofluid absorber employed in this newly designed collector. The nanofluid absorber consists of glass tubes used to contain chemically functionalized multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) dispersed in DI water. MWCNTs (average diameter of 6-13 nm and average length of 2.5-20 μm) were functionalized by potassium persulfate as an oxidant. The nanofluids were prepared with a MCWNT concentration of 50 ± 0.1 mg/L to form a balance between solar absorption depth and viscosity (e.g. pumping power). Moreover, experimentally comparison of the thermal efficiency between two receivers (a black chrome-coated copper tube versus a MWCNT nanofluid contained within a glass tubetube) is investigated.
Thermal experimentation reveals that while the collector efficiency reduced from 73% to 54% when operating temperature increased from ambient to 80 °C by employing a MWCNT nanofluid receiver, the efficiency decreased from 85% to 68% with same operating temperature range by employing black chrome-coated copper tube receiver. This difference can mainly be explained by the reflection optical loss off and higher thermal emission heat loss the front surface of the glass tube, yielding a 90% of transmittance to the MWCNT fluid and a 0.9 emissivity of glass pipe. Overall, an experimental investigation of the performance of a low profile solar collector with a direct volumetric absorber and conventional surface absorber is presented. In order to bring nanotechnology into industrial and commercial heating applications,