The problem of optimizing the radius of boiler tubes in a radiation-dominated environment such as a solar thermal power receiver is examined. The trade-off between heat transfer and pumping power is investigated, resulting in an explicit expression for the radius that maximizes the net exergy gain under turbulent flow conditions. The effect of the pumping power being generated on site is included, thus making the result particularly applicable to the design of stand-alone power systems. Examples using typical design values for small parabolic dish solar thermal collectors using water and steam as the working fluid are given to illustrate the characteristics of the problem.

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