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Using computational fluid dynamics for different alternatives water flow path in a thermal photovoltaic (PVT) system

S. Hoseinzadeh (Department of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa)
Ali Sohani (Faculty of Mechanical Engineering-Energy Division, KN Toosi University of Technology, Tehran, Iran)
Saman Samiezadeh (School of Automotive Engineering, Iran University of Science and Technology, Tehran, Iran)
H. Kariman (Faculty of Mechanical and Energy Engineering, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran)
M.H. Ghasemi (Department of Mechanical Engineering, West Tehran Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran)

International Journal of Numerical Methods for Heat & Fluid Flow

ISSN: 0961-5539

Article publication date: 23 September 2020

Issue publication date: 3 May 2021




This study aim to use the finite volume method to solve differential equations related to three-dimensional simulation of a solar collector. Modeling is done using ANSYS-fluent software program. The investigation is done for a photovoltaic (PV) solar cell, with the dimension of 394 × 84 mm2, which is the aluminum type and receives the constant heat flux of 800 W.m−2. Water is also used as the working fluid, and the Reynolds number is 500.


In the present study, the effect of fluid flow path on the thermal, electrical and fluid flow characteristics of a PV thermal (PVT) collector is investigated. Three alternatives for flow paths, namely, direct, curved and spiral for coolant flow, are considered, and a numerical model to simulate the system performance is developed.


The results show that the highest efficiency is achieved by the solar cell with a curved fluid flow path. Additionally, it is found that the curved path’s efficiency is 0.8% and 0.5% higher than that of direct and spiral paths, respectively. Moreover, the highest pressure drop occurs in the curved microchannel route, with around 260 kPa, which is 2% and 5% more than the pressure drop of spiral and direct.


To the best of the authors’ knowledge, there has been no study that investigates numerically heat transfer, fluid flow and electrical performance of a PV solar thermal cell, simultaneously. Moreover, the effect of the microchannel routes which are considered for water flow has not been considered by researchers so far. Taking all the mentioned points into account, in this study, numerical analysis on the effect of different microchannel paths on the performance of a PVT solar collector is carried. The investigation is conducted for the Reynolds number of 500.



Hoseinzadeh, S., Sohani, A., Samiezadeh, S., Kariman, H. and Ghasemi, M.H. (2021), "Using computational fluid dynamics for different alternatives water flow path in a thermal photovoltaic (PVT) system", International Journal of Numerical Methods for Heat & Fluid Flow, Vol. 31 No. 5, pp. 1618-1637.



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