Heat transfer in a molten salt filled enclosure absorbing concentrated solar radiation

Ityona Amber*, Tadhg O'Donovan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
69 Downloads (Pure)


Numerical simulations of the natural convection driven by the direct absorption of concentrated solar radiation by a high temperature molten salt filled enclosures for height to diameter ratios (H/D) of 0.5, 1 and 2 and Rayleigh numbers 107–1011 is presented. The domain of interest consists of a fluid cavity bounded by rigid adiabatic vertical walls, a heat-conducting bottom wall of finite thickness and an open adiabatic top surface, directly irradiated by a non- uniform concentrated solar flux. The salt volume is first heated non-uniformly by direct absorption of solar radiation and subsequently from the lower absorber plate which is heated by the absorption of the radiation transmitted through the salt. A Finite Element Method is used to solve the time dependent two dimensional Navier Stokes equations that includes a depth dependent volumetric heat source and temperature dependent thermophysical of molten salts. Numerical results presented in terms of isotherms and streamlines show a nonlinear temperature profile consisting of distinct layers where thermocapilarity and buoyancy effects are evident. Fluid flow development in the lower layer is found to vary significantly with time and exhibits an initial stage, transitional stage and quasi-steady stages. The magnitude of the natural convection and the duration of each stage is found to decrease as the aspect ratio increases from 0.5 to 2. Calculation of the average heat transfer reveals that the Nusselt Rayleigh number relationship is not uniformly linear and the average heat transfer over the lower boundary surface increased with increasing Ra.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)444-455
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer
Early online date3 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017


  • Molten salt
  • Natural convection
  • Numerical simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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