Due to the poor thermal characteristics of the air, the absorber roughness of solar air collectors is commonly artificially increased in order to enhance the heat transfer to the air stream. However, this is also accompanied by an undesirable increase in the pumping power due to increased friction losses. As a result, several authors have experimentally investigated several ways of maximizing the heat transfer while minimizing the friction losses of different absorbers, resulting in the development of semi-empirical functions relating the Nusselt number (a measure of heat transfer) and the friction factor (a measure of friction losses) to the Reynolds number and the roughness parameters considered for each absorber. The present paper reviews, considering the publications from the last ten years, these semi-empirical functions. Moreover, the optimum roughness parameters and operating conditions of the absorbers were estimated by finding the maximum values of two performance parameters (the thermo-hydraulic efficiency and effectiveness), calculated using the semi-empirical functions, in order to classify the absorbers in terms of their energy characteristics. This approach proves to be a rather effective way of optimizing the roughness characteristics of solar air collector absorbers. It is also concluded that, considering the range of absorbers analyzed here, generally, multiple V-shaped ribs with gaps provide the most effective roughness geometry.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.