One of the major challenges to the widespread application of the solar chimney power plant is its low-power conversion efficiency because of the three technological processes involved. The chimney efficiency is difficult to improve, and thus enhancing the collector or turbine performance can considerably improve the total plant efficiency. This work focused on enhancing the energy conversion efficiency of the collector and also extending the operation time using a heat storage medium. The solar to thermal conversion and thermal storage capabilities of six ground materials that are potentially available in Malaysia were studied experimentally and numerically. The experimental model was designed such that the six materials were exposed to the same operation boundary conditions. The numerical studies were conducted using ANSYS software, where the geometrical models were developed and simulated using FLUENT for the fluid flow and energy/thermal field studies. The selected ground materials were ceramic, black stones, sawdust, dark-green painted wood, sand, and pebbles. The simulation and experimental results are in good agreement in terms of air stream velocity and energy conversion efficiency. The results showed that the different materials have different heat storage capacities, and that ceramics extend the operation with improved efficiency until nighttime. The results also showed that ceramic and black stones have better performance than the other materials. However, black stones are recommended as the absorbing material for solar chimney power plants in Malaysia and regional countries because they are readily available.
absorption materials energy conversion, absorptivity, convective heat transfer, solar chimney, solar energy
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