Parabolic Trough Single Loop

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Paul Gilman
Parabolic Trough Single Loop


We have been using your version 2011 6.30 SAM software to attempt to model a single loop of a parabolic trough system with 125 metre SCA length collectors. We want to isolate the piping losses that would be involved to a certain point. We only want to keep the crossover piping and intermediate HTF piping that would be present between the loop inlet and loop outlet points of that loop.

We noticed that the “Estimated Net Output at Design” output parameter also seems to have an issue when we try to model a single loop which should cause this parameter to equate to less than 1MW (we can’t seem to get this value in that range as it switches between 0 and 1MW). Bottom line is that we ran the simulation and were unable to achieve any kind of hourly results for this type of scenario.

Do you have a better way/methodology to model 1 parabolic trough loop (in our case, it would be 500 metres long, 125m/SCA x 10 SCAs)?


We would not recommend this approach because the the piping, power cycle, and other models are all designed to handle capacity ranges that are typical of a larger plant, not of a single loop.

A better way to estimate the losses of a single loop might be to model a large plant and divide the total mass flow by the number of loops. This would work because SAM assumes that all of the loops in a field are identical. The thermal losses from header piping are a bit more difficult to determine in this way because the model applies a single thermal loss coefficient (W/m2-K) to both the header piping and the crossover and intermediate piping. However, you could isolate the header piping losses by setting the piping loss coefficient to zero, which would effectively remove the loop piping losses.

If this method of approximating the losses is insufficient for your needs, you may want to consider developing your own model to make the estimates.

Best regards,

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