Numerical model of solar external receiver tubes: Influence of mechanical boundary conditions and temperature variation in thermoelastic stresses Articles uri icon

publication date

  • November 2018

start page

  • 912

end page

  • 922


  • 174

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0038-092X

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1471-1257


  • Failure in solar external receivers is mainly originated from the thermal stress, caused by the high non-uniform transient solar flux. The heat-up and cooldown of tube receivers in daily cycles produce low-cycle fatigue that limits the lifetime of tubes. The corrosion of tube materials produced by incompatibility between the decomposed heat transfer fluid and tube material may increase this issue. The temperature spatial distribution in these tubes has strong variations in radial, circumferential, and axial directions. The stress field, produced by the temperature gradients, has been commonly analyzed using bidimensional models in isolated tube cross sections, without taking into account the axial temperature variation, the mechanical boundary conditions, and the temperature-dependent thermomechanical properties. In this work, a three-dimensional finite element model has been developed in order to calculate the stress field distribution, without performing any geometrical simplification. In addition, appropriate mechanical boundary conditions have been imposed in order to adequately simulate the tube behavior. Besides, radial, circumferential and axial temperature variations have been studied separately to analyze how each of them influences the maximum stress distribution. This 3D modelhas been compared with analytical solutions for the two-dimensional thermal stress problem incircular hollow cylinders. The results show that the boundary conditions have a significant effect on the tube stresses, increasing the axial stress component and therefore the equivalent stress. The analysis of each of the temperature variations showed that the circumferential variationtemperature is the one that produces most of the stress, since it tries to strongly bend the tube, which is impeded by the boundary conditions. The results also present that 2D models are not capable of obtaining the correct stress distribution along the tube, since they are not taking into account the lo


  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Renewable Energies


  • solar external receiver; thermal stress; temperature gradients; thin-walled cylinder; thermal-stresses