Radiative Passive Cooling for Concentrated Photovoltaics

2019-12-06T11:34:35Z (GMT) by Ze Wang

Photovoltaic (PV) cells have become an increasingly ubiquitous technology; however, concentrating photovoltaics (CPV), despite their higher theoretical efficiencies and lower costs, have seen much more limited adoption. Recent literature indicates that thermal management is a key challenge in CPV systems. If not addressed, it can negatively impact efficiency and reliability (lifetime). Traditional cooling methods for CPV use heat sinks, forced air convection or liquid cooling, which can induce an extremely large convection area, or parasite electric consumption. In addition, the moving parts in cooling system usually result in a shorter life time and higher expense for maintenance. Therefore, there is a need for an improved cooling technology that enables significant improvement in CPV systems. As a passive and compact cooling mechanism, radiative cooling utilizes the transparency window of the atmosphere in the long wavelength infrared. It enables direct heat exchange between objects on earth’s surface with outer space. Since radiated power is proportional to the difference of the fourth powers of the temperatures of PV and ambient, significantly greater cooling powers can be realized at high temperatures, compared with convection and conduction. These qualities make radiative cooling a promising method for thermal management of CPV. In this work, experiments show that a temperature drop of 36 degree C have been achieved by radiative cooling, which results in an increase of 0.8 V for open-circuit voltage of GaSb solar cell. The corresponding simulations also reveal the physics behind radiative cooling and give a thorough analysis of the cooling performance.