Transient Thermal Analysis of a Refractive Secondary Solar Concentrator 1999-01-2680
A secondary concentrator is an optical device that accepts solar energy from a primary concentrator and further intensifies and directs the solar flux. The refractive secondary is one such device; fabricated from an optically clear solid material that can efficiently transmit the solar energy by way of refraction and total internal reflection. When combined with a large state-of-the-art rigid or inflatable primary concentrator, the refractive secondary enables solar concentration ratios of 10,000 to 1. In support of potential space solar thermal power and propulsion applications, the NASA Glenn Research Center is developing a single-crystal refractive secondary concentrator for use at temperatures exceeding 2000K. Candidate optically clear single-crystal materials like sapphire and zirconia are being evaluated for this application.
To support this evaluation, a three-dimensional transient thermal model of a refractive secondary concentrator in a typical solar thermal propulsion application was developed. This paper describes the model and presents thermal predictions for both sapphire and zirconia prototypes. These predictions are then used to establish parameters for analyzing and testing the materials for their ability to survive thermal shock and stress.