Date of Award
Bachelor of Science
Photovoltaic, Cooling, Heat Pipes, Renewable Energy
There is a persistent need for further development and implementation of renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar. Due to the increase in global population, the disappearance of fossil fuels, and the reality of climate change, renewable power is needed now more than ever. One such renewable power technology is solar photovoltaic, otherwise known as PV. These modules work via silicon cells which are as semiconductors, outputting electrical energy when incident with solar radiation. This is done by separating electrons and protons within the cell. One of the largest issues with PV technology is that there is a linear reduction in power production and module efficiency as the temperature increases, known as the negative temperature coefficient. Crystalline silicon solar cells are the leading standard and have a reduction in conversion efficiency of approximately 0.5% for every degree Celsius of temperature rise . Additionally, the lifespan of a PV system is significantly reduced as a result of cell degradation due to excess thermal stress.
For this project, I have modeled, prototyped, and tested three cooling systems for PV modules. Two of the cooling systems are passive, non-power consuming. One simply consisting of a large aluminum heat sink centered on the backside of the module, and the other consisting of a combination of copper heat pipes and the same aluminum heat sink. The third system consisted of a water-cooling method where water was pumped over the working surface of the module from a reservoir, being evenly spread across the working surface through a perforated tube. A successful cooling system, the module’s electrical efficiency must increase significantly and have a low payback period.
Leary, Peter, "Design & Evaluation of Cooling Systems for Photovoltaic Modules" (2019). Honors Theses. 2357.