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Concentrated Solar Power Utilization in Space Vehicles Propulsion and Power Generation

Authors: Maged A. Mossallam


The objective from this paper is to design a solar thermal engine for space vehicles orbital control and electricity generation. A computational model is developed for the prediction of the solar thermal engine performance for different design parameters and conditions in order to enhance the engine efficiency. The engine is divided into two main subsystems. First, the concentrator dish which receives solar energy from the sun and reflects them to the cavity receiver. The second one is the cavity receiver which receives the heat flux reflected from the concentrator and transfers heat to the fluid passing over. Other subsystems depend on the application required from the engine. For thrust application, a nozzle is introduced to the system for the fluid to expand and produce thrust. Hydrogen is preferred as a working fluid in the thruster application. Results model developed is used to determine the thrust for a concentrator dish 4 meters in diameter (provides 10 kW of energy), focusing solar energy to a 10 cm aperture diameter cavity receiver. The cavity receiver outer length is 50 cm and the internal cavity is 47 cm in length. The suggested design material of the internal cavity is tungsten to withstand high temperature. The thermal model and analysis shows that the hydrogen temperature at the plenum reaches 2000oK after about 250 seconds for hot start operation for a flow rate of 0.1 g/sec.Using solar thermal engine as an electricity generation device on earth is also discussed. In this case a compressor and turbine are used to convert the heat gained by the working fluid (air) into mechanical power. This mechanical power can be converted into electrical power by using a generator.

Keywords: Concentrated Solar Energy, Orbital Control, Power Generation, Solar Thermal Engine, Space Vehicles Propulsion

Digital Object Identifier (DOI):

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