Thermal stratification in solar energy storage tanks plays an important role in enhancing the performance of solar domestic hot water systems. The mixing that occurs when hot fluid from the solar collector enters the top of the tank is detrimental to the stratification. Mathematical models that are used for system analysis must therefore be able to capture the effects of this inlet jet mixing in order to accurately predict system performance. This paper presents a computational study of the heat transfer and fluid flow in a thermal storage tank of a solar domestic hot water system with a vertical inlet under negative buoyant plume conditions. The effects of parameters such as the fluid inlet velocity and temperature as well as inlet pipe diameter on the thermal mixing were considered. The work culminated in the development of a one-dimensional empirical model capable of predicting the transient axial temperature distribution inside the thermal storage tank. Predictions from the new model were in good agreement with both experimental data and detailed computational fluid dynamics predictions.

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Solar Energy
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Nizami, D.J. (Danish J.), Lightstone, M.F. (Marilyn F.), Harrison, S.J. (Stephen J.), & Cruickshank, C. (2013). Negative buoyant plume model for solar domestic hot water tank systems incorporating a vertical inlet. Solar Energy, 87(1), 53–63. doi:10.1016/j.solener.2012.10.001