CFD analysis for solar chimney power plants

Hermann F. Fasel, Fanlong Meng, Ehsan Shams, Andreas Gross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


Solar chimney power plants are investigated numerically using ANSYS Fluent and an in-house developed Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) code. Analytical scaling laws are verified by considering a large range of scales with tower heights between 1. m (sub-scale laboratory model) and 1000. m (largest envisioned plant). A model with approximately 6. m tower height is currently under construction at the University of Arizona. Detailed time-dependent high-resolution simulations of the flow in the collector and chimney of the model provide detailed insight into the fluid dynamics and heat transfer mechanisms. Both transversal and longitudinal convection rolls are identified in the collector, indicating the presence of a Rayleigh-Bénard-Poiseuille instability. Local separation is observed near the chimney inflow. The flow inside the chimney is fully turbulent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12-22
Number of pages11
JournalSolar energy
StatePublished - Dec 2013


  • CFD
  • Direct numerical simulation
  • Rayleigh-Bénard-Poiseuille instability
  • Solar chimney
  • Turbulence modeling
  • Unsteady flow structures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • General Materials Science


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