Geometric Analysis of Three-Dimensional Effects of Parabolic Trough Collectors

Marco Binotti, Guangdong Zhu, Allison Gray, Giampaolo Manzolini, Paolo Silva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus Citations


An analytical approach, as an extension of one newly developed method - First-principle OPTical Intercept Calculation (FirstOPTIC)-is proposed to evaluate the geometrical impact of three-dimensional (3-D) effects on the optical performance of parabolic trough collectors. The mathematical steps of this analytical approach are presented and implemented numerically as part of the suite of FirstOPTIC code. The new code has been carefully validated against numerical solutions and ray-tracing simulation results. The FirstOPTIC code is then applied to a series of case studies to examine the impact of some important 3-D effects on the intercept factor. A significant result of this work is the correction of the approach generally accepted for the specularity mirror errors for non-zero incidence angles. The new correlation has been validated using the FirstOPTIC approach and ray tracing.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)88-96
Number of pages9
JournalSolar Energy
StatePublished - 2013

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5500-54642


  • Concentrating solar power
  • Incidence angle modifier
  • Intercept factor
  • Optical analysis
  • Parabolic trough
  • Three-dimensional effects


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