Characterization and improvement of a direct solar radiation detector.
Macome, Marcelino Adriano.
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A low-cost Direct Solar Radiation Detector (DSRD) was developed in house in the Department of Physics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (Westville). A main use of this instrument is to gather solar energy data that are to be used in the design of systems that concentrate and convert solar energy into thermal energy (concentrating solar thermal energy systems). These data are compiled into a database from which the efficiency and potential use of many solar systems can be based. It was required that the detector was fully characterized with respect to spectral range, polar (angular) response and environmental stability. Based on this analysis it was also required to investigate possible ways of improving the detector. An Eppley Normal Incidence Pyrheliometer (NIP) mounted on an Eppley Sun Tracker (ST) was used as a reference instrument. The ST is a power driven tracker with an axis parallel to the Earth's axis of rotation. The NIP and DSRD were mounted together on the tracker in order to correlate their responses and also to calibrate the DSRD. The results indicate that the modified DSRD works better in that it follows the reference instrument. The correlation between the NIP data and the DSRD data is better with the value of correlation factor close to unity and the root mean square error value close to zero. This means that the modifications carried out on the detector have improved the low cost in-house detector and hence the quality of data collected.