Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering


Mechanical Engineering

Committee Chair

Sandra Boetcher, Ph.D

First Committee Member

Birce Dikici, Ph.D

Second Committee Member

Marc Compere, Ph.D


In this thesis, a mathematical model is applied to study the performance of a parabolic trough solar collector (PTSC). The proposed model consists of three parts. The first part is a solar radiation model. In this section, the amount of solar radiation incident upon Earth is estimated using equations and relationships between the sun and the Earth. The second part is the optical model. This part has the ability to determine the optical efficiency of PTSC throughout the daytime. The last part is the thermal model. The aim of this section is to estimate the amount of energy collected by the working fluid, heat loss, thermal efficiency, and outlet temperature. All heat balance equations and heat transfer mechanisms: conduction, convection, and radiation, have been incorporated. The proposed model is implemented in MATLAB software.

In addition, an experimental investigation was conducted on parabolic trough solar collector. The test was carried out at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, FL on February 19, 2014. A test rack was used during the experimentation. It contains a circulating pump, a storage tank, a heat exchanger (radiator), and flow meter. Thermocouples were used to measure the inlet and outlet temperature of PTSC (the second trough). Water is used as a working fluid. After data were recorded, thermal performance analysis was performed. The results indicate that a maximum temperature of 48 was achieved and a maximum efficiency of 30 % was obtained.

Lastly, comparisons between the experimental and modeled results have been carried out for validation purpose. The results show acceptable agreement even though there are some variances. This deviation is accounted for in the heat loss from the connectors, supporting brackets, location of thermocouples, accuracy of thermocouples and thermocouple reader, and accuracy of heat transfer equations.