Design and performance characteristics of an innovative heat sink structure with phase change material for cooling of photovoltaic system

by Abhishek Saxena, Nitin Agarwal, Brian Norton


Performance of a photovoltaic (PV) module depends on module characteristics, operating conditions, control systems, cell temperature, and installation environment. PV cells operating at high temperatures have lower PV electrical conversion efficiencies. In the present work, efforts are made to design and develop an innovative heat sink through which both the water cooling and cooling with phase change materials (PCM) can be done whenever required. This experimental study reports on the performance of maintaining low PV temperatures with front-surface water-cooling and back-surface cooling with a PCM based heat sink in three different configurations under the climatic condition of Moradabad city in India. The same reference module was compared with (i) a front-surface water-cooled system; (ii) a back-surface PCM-cooled module; and (iii) a system that was time dependently water-cooled and PCM-cooled module. Average surface temperature was reduced by 78.7% under first configuration, 25.7% under second configuration, and 36.8% under third configuration. The net average electrical conversion efficiency enhancement was about 22.8%, 7.8%, and 10.3% for first, second, and third configurations, respectively. New heat sink is found better for thermal management of PV systems in comparison to other available cooling techniques and conventional PV modules.

Published In: Energy Sources, Part A: Recovery, Utilization, and Environmental Effects