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Performance enhancement of PV cells through micro-channel cooling

Mechanical Engineering Department, University of Engineering and Technology Taxila, Pakistan

Special Issues: Advances in Energy and Sustainable Development

Efficiency of a PV cell is strongly dependent on its surface temperature. The current study is focused to achieve maximum efficiency of PV cells even in scorching temperatures in hot climates like Pakistan where the cell surface temperatures can even rise up to around 80 ℃. The study includes both the CFD and real time experimental investigations of a solar panel using micro channel cooling. Initially, CFD analysis is performed by developing a 3D model of a Mono-Crystalline cell with micro-channels to analyze cell surface temperature distribution at different irradiance and water flow rates. Afterwards, an experimental setup is developed for performance investigations under the real conditions of an open climate of a Pakistan's city, Taxila. Two 35W panels are manufactured for the experiments; one is based on the standard manufacturing procedure while other cell is developed with 4mm thick aluminum sheet having micro-channels of cross-section of 1mm by 1mm. The whole setup also includes different sensors for the measurement of solar irradiance, cell power, surface temperature and water flow rates. The experimental results show that PV cell surface temperature drop of around 15 ℃ is achieved with power increment of around 14% at maximum applied water flow rate of 3 LPM. Additionally, a good agreement is also found between CFD and experimental results. Therefore, that study clearly shows that a significant performance improvement of PV cells can be achieved through the proposed cell cooling technique.
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