Passive cooling of concentrated solar cells using phase change material thermal storage

Tan, L 2013, Passive cooling of concentrated solar cells using phase change material thermal storage, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Aerospace, Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Passive cooling of concentrated solar cells using phase change material thermal storage
Author(s) Tan, L
Year 2013
Abstract High solar cell temperature has always been a major concern when designing a concentrated solar power (CSP) system. Exceeding the operational cell temperature can result shorter cell lifespan and even cell damage under extreme solar concentration. Currently, active cooling methods such as using water circulating devices are commonly used to control elevated cell temperature. However, power parasite and risks of mechanical failure are always associated with active cooling devices. Passive cooling methods are simpler and more reliable than active cooling but not very effective for high solar concentrating applications. Many research works have been conducted on improving passive cooling performance in the past decades but the outcomes are insignificant. The main problem faces by passive cooling methods is the natural cooling rate is very dependent on the ambient conditions. Low wind speed and high ambient temperature are factors which can significantly reduce the cooling performance of any passive devices. Hence, passive cooling methods are discouraged from high heat intensity applications. In this regards, phase change material (PCM) is proposed on the CSP systems as passive cooling mechanism via melting and solidification. The PCM used in this research is paraffin wax which has attractive thermal-physical properties of high heat storage capacity, non-corrosive, high thermal cycle and exhibit isothermal process during phase transition period (solid-liquid). Furthermore, it is widely used as thermal storage material in civil engineering and solar engineering applications. In this thesis, PCM thermal storage was implemented on the concentrated thermoelectric generator (CTEG) and photovoltaic (PV) systems as passive thermal control and improved the electrical power generation under concentrated solar radiation. Experimental and numerical studies were conducted to assess the thermal and electrical performance of both CTEG and PV systems. The experimental results revealed that the CTEG-PCMTS system is able to generate 8.47W of thermoelectricity at 130suns using two TEG cells. In addition, the PV-PCM system has gained 5% improvement on photo-electric generation and 15oC reduction on panel temperature as compared to natural-cooled system. The proposed PCM thermal storage has the potentials to be implemented on the CSP systems for more efficient power generation.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Aerospace, Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering
Keyword(s) Passive cooling
thermal storage
phase change material
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Created: Fri, 02 Aug 2013, 11:29:30 EST by Brett Fenton
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