The Use of Solid Phase Change Material as a Strategy for Temperature Mitigation and Improved Efficiency of Solar Panels
Authors:Alex Chung, Yensi Deras, Yensi Deras
Mentor:Yam Lee, Adjunct Professor of Chemical Engineering, California State Polytechnic University Pomona
With the rising concern of global warming and shortage of non-renewable energy, photovoltaic usage has accelerated in recent years. Accordingly, a strategy to improve the performance of solar panels is desirable. One important factor that affects the efficiency of solar panel in converting sunlight into energy is the temperature level. The first part of this project proved that solar panels become less efficient as the temperature rises. Phase change material (PCM) is a substance with a high heat of fusion that provides latent heat storage through solid-liquid phase change. Accordingly, PCM could be used to maintain the solar panel at a lower temperature; thus, the performance of the photovoltaic system could be improved. The immediate objective of this research project is to investigate the capability of PCM in increasing the efficiency of solar panels, so that more advanced applications of PCM to solar panels can be developed. Using a metal backed solar panel, several Current-Voltage (IV) curves were created and analyzed to determine the effect of temperature on the performance of solar panels. The effects of PCM on the temperature and power output of solar panels were then determined by analyzing the characteristics of new IV curves under the influence of PCM. The results showed that PCM has some positive effects on the performance of the solar panels. This result can be used as the basis for further research in using PCM as a strategy to improve the efficiency of solar panels.