Research

May 20, 2016 at 4:33 pm

Zak Blumer | Building an Evacuated Tube Solar Collector

By Zak Blumer
(B.S. HTC Engineering Physics, Class of 2018)

Zak Blumer and his evacuated tube solar collector

Zak Blumer and his evacuated tube solar collector

My work under Dr. Martin Kordesch’s supervision in Physics & Astronomy involves determining the efficiency of models of concentrating thermal solar power and comparing them to other models in order to find the most efficient model.

When I began my research, I started at the very beginning. Not having conducted undergraduate-level research before meant that I had to learn the basics of determining what I wanted to learn about, framing my question, and constructing a process through which I could answer that question.

I first needed to understand what is known and what is unknown in the field of concentrating solar power (CSP). After reading numerous articles and publications various CSP technologies, I was ready to start designing my own experiment.

With help from the Physics & Astronomy department’s mechanical system technicians Doug Shafer and Mike Myers, I was able to design and construct a closed-circuit loop to test the efficiency of a solar collector I had designed. It was composed of a double-walled evacuated tube, a compound-parabolic trough reflector, and a non-tracking mount.

Evacuated Tube Solar Collector

Evacuated tube solar collector

Over the course of the coming year, data will be collected to test efficiency of the system. This efficiency will be compared to other set-ups in the future, and will help me contribute to increasing the efficiency of solar thermal energy.

I learned about many different aspects of physics, especially heat transfer. What I enjoyed most was learning how my work—and the work that I could be doing in the future—could have multiple “real-world” applications. I also gained experience in framing a research question, experimental design, and different research techniques to understand the most I could about the field.

I’m thankful to have been able to learn through experts like Dr. Kordesch, and Doug Shafer and Mike Myers. It’s truly a remarkable experience to be able to conduct research over the summer—especially in Athens. I hope I can do it again!

Zak Blumer – Intern with Dr. Martin Kordesch – sophomore at Ohio University – Honors Tutorial College – engineering physics major

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