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Solar Energy

SDSU Masters Theses: Alex Whitmore

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Alex Whitmore

Alex Whitmore
Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (Candidate)
Specialization in Thermal Sciences
Jan 2010 – May 2014 (expected graduation)
B.S.-Mechanical Engineering, UC San Diego (2008)


Picture of Steve RutherMy research project is focused on the numerical thermal modeling of a quartz window for a small particle solar receiver.  An energy solver code, written in FORTRAN for this research, is used to thermally analyze the effects of conduction, convection and radiative heat transfer.  The energy solver is a steady state, planar, non-uniform, three dimensional finite volume code written in cylindrical coordinates to solve the energy equation.  The code has spatially variable convection and fixed edge temperature boundary conditions.  The radiation heat transfer is calculated using the Monte Carlo Ray Trace (MCRT) method.  This computational technique involves tracing photon bundles along linear trajectories and using probability distribution function to model the governing equations.  Probability distributions are used to determine the direction of a photon bundles trajectory, the wavelength of a photon bundle, if the photon bundle is absorbed or reflected by a surface, and the distance a photon bundle will travel before it is absorbed in a participating medium.

The window energy solver code will be coupled to the computation fluid dynamics package ANSYS Fluent to calculate the convection coefficients and local film temperatures on both the internal and external surfaces of the window.  The output temperature map of this code is used as an input into the structural thermal analysis of the window.  The goal of this project is to design and analyze a window for a 5 MWth Small Particle Solar Receiver to be designed and tested under the U.S. DOE’s SunShot Initiative at the National Solar Thermal Test Facility (Albuquerque, NM).

Analyzing surface radiation emission from high temperature materials is common.  This research analyzes the importance of internal radiation emission from inside the high temperature, semi-transparent window and compares it to effective conductivity models which have been suggested for semitransparent solids.

Thesis: Thesis

Curriculum Vitae: Resume