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Research Papers

Performance Analysis of a Combination System of Concentrating Photovoltaic/Thermal Collector and Thermoelectric Generators

[+] Author and Article Information
Xinqiang Xu

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Binghamton University–SUNY,
Binghamton, NY 13902
e-mail: xxu2@binghamton.edu

Siyi Zhou

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Binghamton University–SUNY,
Binghamton, NY 13902
e-mail: szhou3@binghamton.edu

Mark M. Meyers

Applied Optics Lab,
GE Global Research,
Niskayuna, NY 12309
e-mail: meyersm@research.ge.com

Bahgat G. Sammakia

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Binghamton University–SUNY,
Binghamton, NY 13902
e-mail: bahgat@binghamton.edu

Bruce T. Murray

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Binghamton University–SUNY,
Binghamton, NY 13902
e-mail: bmurrary@binghamton.edu

Contributed by the Electronic and Photonic Packaging Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF ELECTRONIC PACKAGING. Manuscript received September 11, 2013; final manuscript received July 19, 2014; published online September 19, 2014. Assoc. Editor: Ashish Gupta.

J. Electron. Packag 136(4), 041004 (Sep 19, 2014) (7 pages) Paper No: EP-13-1103; doi: 10.1115/1.4028060 History: Received September 11, 2013; Revised July 19, 2014

Thermoelectric (TE) modules utilize available temperature differences to generate electricity by the Seebeck effect. The current study investigates the merits of employing thermoelectrics to harvest additional electric energy instead of just cooling concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) modules by heat sinks (heat extractors). One of the attractive options to convert solar energy into electricity efficiently is to laminate TE modules between CPV modules and heat extractors to form a CPV-TE/thermal (CPV-TE/T) hybrid system. In order to perform an accurate estimation of the additional electrical energy harvested, a coupled-field model is developed to calculate the electrical performance of TE devices, which incorporates a rigorous interfacial energy balance including the Seebeck effect, the Peltier effect, and Joule heating, and results in better predictions of the conversion capability. Moreover, a 3D multiphysics computational model for the HCPV-TE/T water collector system consisting of a solar concentrator, 10 serially connected GaAs/Ge photovoltaic (PV) cells, 300 couples of bismuth telluride TE modules, and a cooling channel with heat-recovery capability, is implemented by using the commercial FE–tool Comsol Multiphysics®. A conjugate heat transfer model is used, assuming laminar flow through the cooling channel. The performance and efficiencies of the hybrid system are analyzed. As compared with the traditional photovoltaic/thermal (PV/T) system, a comparable thermal efficiency and a higher 8% increase of the electrical efficiency can be observed through the PV-TE hybrid system. Additionally, with the identical convective surface area and cooling flow rate in both configurations, the PV-TE/T hybrid system yields higher PV cell temperatures but more uniform temperature distributions across the cell array, which thus eliminates the current matching problem; however, the higher cell temperatures lower the PV module's fatigue life, which has become one of the biggest challenges in the PV-TE hybrid system.

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Figures

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Fig. 2

Layout of the proposed TEG

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Fig. 1

(a) Section of the hybrid system and (b) schematic of the TEG panel

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Fig. 3

Surfaces with boundary condition for electric part

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Fig. 4

PV cells' temperature distribution along flow direction for different mesh refinement at a fixed inlet velocity

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Fig. 5

Model validations with maximum power output at the reference condition (Tin_cold = 293 K, Gin_Hot = 0.4 m3/h, and Gin_Cold = 0.3 m3/h)

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Fig. 6

Single TE module's open voltage and maximal power generated upon the temperature difference

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Fig. 7

Effect of flow rate on electrical efficiencies

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Fig. 8

Effect of flow rate on thermal efficiencies

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Fig. 9

PV cell temperature at solar heat flux G = 20 kW/m2 and inlet velocity u = 0.01 m/s

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Fig. 10

Effect of figure of merit on the electrical efficiency of PV-TE/T system (thickness of TE layer: 1.2 mm)

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Fig. 11

Electrical efficiency of hybrid system as a function of the TE layer's thickness (fixed water inlet velocity of 0.02 m/s)

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Fig. 12

Effect of TE layer's thickness on temperature difference between the TE layer's hot and cool surfaces (fixed water inlet velocity of 0.02 m/s)

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