Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Engineering


Civil and Environmental Engineering


Rebekah Oulton


A prototype solar desalination system (SODESAL) with a parabolic-trough solar concentrator (PTSC) and evacuated tube was designed and analyzed to determine the solar thermal capabilities for small-scale distillation and energy generation. A proof-of-concept study verified that distillation is possible with the system as designed, however a rupture occurred in the copper heat-pipe heat exchanger due to overheating. The internal temperatures of an aluminum heat transfer fin were measured inside an evacuated tube typically used in solar water heater systems to understand the lateral heat distribution and identify possible causes of the rupture. Solar radiation was measured for both the summer and winter solstices to understand the relationship between incident solar radiation and the potential freshwater yield of the system. The lateral heat distribution of the AHTF is dependent upon the PTSC’s solar incident angle. A consistent lateral heat distribution occurred across the AHTF approximately 40 mins after solar noon. The temperature difference between each end of the AHTF can exceed over 225 °C leading up to and following solar noon when the PTSC was set at a static slope. The SODESAL system’s future applications, system improvements and additional research are also discussed along with the capability of small-scale CSP systems.