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Review Article Open Access
Solar thermal collectors are emerging as a prime mode of harnessing the solar radiations for generation of alternate energy. Heat transfer fluids (HTFs) are employed for transferring and utilizing the solar heat collected via solar thermal energy collectors. Solar thermal collectors are commonly categorized into low temperature collectors, medium temperature collectors and high temperature collectors. Low temperature solar collectors use phase changing refrigerants and water as heat transfer fluids. Degrading water quality in certain geographic locations and high freezing point is hampering its suitability and hence use of water-glycol mixtures as well as water-based nano fluids are gaining momentum in low temperature solar collector applications. Hydrocarbons like propane, pentane and butane are also used as refrigerants in many cases. HTFs used in medium temperature solar collectors include water, waterglycol mixtures – the emerging “green glycol” i.e., trimethylene glycol and also a whole range of naturally occurring hydrocarbon oils in various compositions such as aromatic oils, naphthenic oils and paraffinic oils in their increasing order of operating temperatures. In some cases, semi-synthetic heat transfer oils have also been reported to be used. HTFs for high temperature solar collectors are a high priority area and extensive investigations and developments are occurring globally. In this category, wide range of molecules starting from water in direct steam generation, air, synthetic hydrocarbon oils, nanofluid compositions, molten salts, molten metals, dense suspension of solid silicon carbide particles etc., are being explored and employed. Among these, synthetic hydrocarbon oils are used as a fluid of choice in majority of high temperature solar collector applications while other HTFs are being used with varying degree of experimental maturity and commercial viability – for maximizing their benefits and minimizing their disadvantages. Present paper reviews the recent developments taking place in the area of heat transfer fluids for harnessing solar thermal energy.
Solar thermal energy, Solar thermal collectors, Heattransfer fluids, Solar Energy, Solar Radiation