A review of solar collectors and thermal energy storage in solar thermal applications
Thermal applications are drawing increasing attention in the solar energy research field, due to their high performance in energy storage density and energy conversion efficiency. In these applications, solar collectors and thermal energy storage systems are the two core components. This paper focuses on the latest developments and advances in solar thermal applications, providing a review of solar collectors and thermal energy storage systems. Various types of solar collectors are reviewed and discussed, including both non-concentrating collectors (low temperature applications) and concentrating collectors (high temperature applications). These are studied in terms of optical optimisation, heat loss reduction, heat recuperation enhancement and different sun-tracking mechanisms. Various types of thermal energy storage systems are also reviewed and discussed, including sensible heat storage, latent heat storage, chemical storage and cascaded storage. They are studied in terms of design criteria, material selection and different heat transfer enhancement technologies. Last but not least, existing and future solar power stations are overviewed.