An extensive review of various technologies for enhancing the thermal and optical performances of parabolic trough collectors

Nabeel Abed, Imran Afgan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


A wide range of engineering industrial applications require both the thermal and optical efficiencies of the system to be maximized with a reasonable low penalty for the friction factor and subsequently low losses in pressure. Among the family of concentrated solar power systems, parabolic trough collectors (PTCs), which have recently received significant attention, face similar challenges. The current work presents an extensive review of the PTC systems comparing recent and past technologies, which are widely being used to improve and enhance the thermal and optical efficiencies. Furthermore, the techniques used for single and two-phase flow modeling in numerical simulations, design variables, and experimental processes have been discussed in detail. The article also presents different numerical methods and analytical approaches of implementing the nonuniform solar distribution with different design parameters. Four main technologies are comprehensively addressed to effectively enhance the thermal performance of the PTCs; changing working heat transfer fluids, replacing the working fluids by nanofluids (single and hybrid) that have higher thermal–physical properties than those of base working fluids, inserting different tabulators with various design configurations, and finally combining the advantages of nanofluids and swirl generators in the same application. The article also critically summarizes the studies investigating the enhancement of thermal performance: use of novel design of PTCs and passive heat transfer enhancement techniques. Finally, a wide range of numerical and experimental studies are proposed for the future work related to the aforementioned main technologies.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)5117-5164
Number of pages48
JournalInternational Journal of Energy Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - 10 Jun 2020


  • heat transfer enhancements
  • nanofluids
  • parabolic trough solar collectors
  • solar thermal energy
  • tabulators
  • thermal and optical performances


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