Strategies to chill PV modules reviewed in new paper – pv journal Australia

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An international research team has analyzed all existing cooling technologies for PV modules and identified the current best options and future research trends. According to his findings, active water cooling is expensive and not particularly practical, but it is the most effective cooling technology, while passive cooling systems, despite their simple application, have only limited possibilities.

October 27, 2020

From pv magazine global

Cooling PV modules increases performance, but it is not easy to achieve inexpensively. These are the results of a recent scientific paper that suggests that future research should focus on active water cooling and the combined cooling of heat pipes and sinks to lower the operating temperature of PV modules. The researchers suggest further study of how these technologies can ultimately be hybridized.

The results were published in the study Advanced Cooling Techniques of PV Modules: A State of the Art, Published in Case Studies in Thermal Engineering by a group of international researchers from Malaysia Pahang University, India’s Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology and Russia’s South Urals University.

In the paper, the scientists recognized that it is currently difficult to identify an easy-to-use and inexpensive refrigeration technology among those that exist because of the lack of data on economics. Active methods that require the use of coolants such as water, air, or other liquids are different from passive systems that rely on a power supply, which helps make them more expensive than their counterparts.

The study presents active techniques such as air cooling, liquid cooling, forced water circulation, liquid immersion cooling, water spraying and passive methods such as PCM cooling (phase change materials), heat pipes, heat sinks or fins and heat exchangers, microchannel heat exchangers, radiant roof cooling, cooling based on nanofluids, thermoelectric cooling, Evaporative cooling and spectrum filter cooling. It also describes a short series of multi-concept hybrid cooling systems that are currently being developed.

Among the challenges designers face in building efficient cooling systems, the research team highlighted the need to balance the high initial costs with higher performance, equipment maintenance costs, the lack of standard testing and reducing the risks of hotspots that the increase the plate temperature.

“If a system is designed without taking environmental factors into account, the cost of equipment maintenance can outweigh the benefits of improved power output,” the paper says. “Among all cooling systems, air and water technologies are quite mature and already well documented[s]. While refrigerant based systems and heat pipes are still affected, there are still some technical / cost issues that prohibit their use on a large scale. “

Regarding the active methods, the scientists added that water cooling in particular is a simple and effective cooling technique, and noted that research on the subject should be continued. However, these technologies are also defined as impractical because the area around the PV system must be constantly supplied with cold water and the array to be cooled must be scalable to offset the cost of the required power.

The passive methods, although they contain additional components such as heat pipes, sinks or heat exchangers, have proven to be relatively easy and inexpensive to manufacture and at the same time have “limited options”.

“The future direction of technology development should focus on the development of hybrid cooling methods, with the main goal of keeping the surface temperature low and stable,” the research group concluded. “Future research should focus on one of two promising cooling technologies, active water cooling and the combined cooling of heat pipes and sinks.”

Researchers at the Multimedia University of Malysia in April gave a similar overview of performance evaluation and comparison between different methods of keeping solar panels cool when in operation.

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