Trends and opportunities in direct-absorption solar thermal collectors

Patrick Phelan, Todd Otanicar, Robert Taylor, Himanshu Tyagi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


Efficient conversion of sunlight into useful heat or work is of increasing global interest. Solar-to-thermal energy conversion, as opposed to solar-to-electricity, is enabled by solar thermal collectors that convert sunlight into heat at some useful temperature. We review here recent developments in solar thermal energy conversion. Our emphasis is on "direct-absorption" solar thermal collectors, in which incident sunlight is absorbed directly by a working fluid. This contrasts with conventional solar thermal collectors where the sunlight strikes and is absorbed by a solid receiver, which then transfers heat to the working fluid. Both liquid-based and gas-based direct-absorption collectors are described, although liquid-based systems are emphasized. We propose that if "directabsorption" technologies could be developed further, it would open up a number of emerging opportunities, including applications exploiting thermochemical and photocatalytic reactions and direct absorption of a binary fluid for absorption refrigeration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number021003
JournalJournal of Thermal Science and Engineering Applications
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 17 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Engineering(all)
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


Dive into the research topics of 'Trends and opportunities in direct-absorption solar thermal collectors'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this