Harnessing phase-change heat exchange in solar power systems

This consortium of researchers based in Mauritius, South Africa, Nigeria and the UK is conducting research on phase-change heat transfer (boiling and condensation) with a view towards contributing to the development of next-generation direct-steam concentrated solar power systems.

Lay summary

Variations in cloud cover, climate and solar irradiation influence the performance of solar power systems. The design for components that employ phase-change heat transfer, critical to solar power generation systems, needs to take this into account. 

In this project phase-change heat transfer and pressure drop in smooth tubes is investigated to improve our understanding and allow more efficient and affordable solar systems.

To understand more about the research carried out in this consortium, read about the work of one of the PhD students from University of Mauritius, Diksha Juggurnath, who contributed to a case study produced for the UNESCO World Science Day for Peace and Development 2018.

Researchers from this consortium contributed to a case study for World Energy Day 2019.

Proposed benefits to researchers and institutions

  • Enhanced experimental capability
  • International exposure that will improve the image of the institutions and allow for the strengthening of new and existing collaborations
  • Skills development for staff members and PhD students involved in the project
  • Opportunity to establish scientific collaborations related to the creation of a sustainable solar energy research community in the local region
  • Establishment and strengthening of the computational infrastructure of the institutions

Proposed benefits of research to society

  • Creation of a renewable energy technology suited to the environmental and developmental conditions of Africa
  • Wider access to clean energy with improved thermal efficiency will assist in poverty reduction by creating opportunities for industrial development without causing significant damage to fragile ecosystems
  • African countries that are not rich in fossil fuels will be able to become less dependent on power production in neighbouring states.
  • Movement towards increased use of renewable power generation, energy independence and decarbonisation in Africa, south Europe and beyond.