Rita M. Polak

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Agricultural Engineering


Widespread adoption of solar energy as an alternate energy source is dependent upon careful engineering design. Mathematical models are among the best engineering design tools, because design alternatives can be evaluated without extensive testing and solar systems can be sized and oriented to suit each particular application. Research has been conducted at South Dakota State University since 1976 to develop, through design and testing, a portable, low cost, concentrating solar system for agricultural applications. Solar energy can readily be substituted for other energy sources in agriculture because many such applications do not require a continuous, uninterrupted energy supply and may efficiently utilize the low-quality heat produced by simple, inexpensive solar systems G Farm operators traditionally possess the technical and mechanical skills and equipment to install and maintain solar systems. Usually sites adequate in area and orientation are available near agricultural applications. Concentrators, which intercept solar radiation and concentrate it into a smaller area on a receiver, can be used to increase the solar radiation striking a flat plate collector. This results in higher temperature rises and increased thermal efficiency because there is less collector surface area per Unit of effective intercepted sun area. Solar concentrators are particularly adaptable to situations where, as in the SDSU reflector, the collector or absorber cost is higher than the reflector cost. By designing the flat plate collector large enough relative to the reflector surface, the need for expensive tracking equipment can be eliminated, while the cost advantage of minimizing collector area and maximizing reflector area can be retained. Precise solar system and component evaluation and redesign of solar systems are vital and are needed to further improve the potential of solar energy as an alternate energy resource. A mathematical prediction model based on fundamental laws of heat transfer and thermodynamics. can be used to evaluate design considerations and sizing of collector components for specific applications. Although the concept of solar collection is relatively simple, no existing model is available which can predict the performance of the solar energy intensifier system. Therefore, research was initiated with the following objectives: 1. Redesign the multipurpose solar energy intensifier system. 2. Test the solar energy intensifier collector system for grain drying under actual operating conditions. 3. Evaluate the performance and economic feasibility of the solar energy intensifier system. 4. Develop a generalized computer program for predicting the energy collected from the solar energy intensifier collector system. 5. Validate the performance of this computer simulation using measured data gathered from the corn drying studies.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Solar energy in agriculture
Solar energy -- Mathematical models
Grain -- Drying



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University