Assessment of the Impact of Stagnation Temperatures in Receiver Prototypes of C-PVT Collectors
Concentrating Photovoltaic Thermal (C-PVT) solar collectors produce both thermal and electric power from the same area while concentrating sunlight. This paper studies a C-PVT design where strings of series-connected solar cells are encapsulated with silicone in an aluminium receiver, inside of which the heat transfer fluid flows, and presents an evaluation on structural integrity and performance, after reaching stagnation temperatures. Eight test receivers were made, in which the following
... h the following properties were varied: Size of the PV cells, type of silicone used to encapsulate the cells, existence of a strain relief between the cells, size of the gap between cells, and type of cell soldering (line or point). The test receivers were placed eight times in an oven for one hour at eight different monitored temperatures. The temperature of the last round was set at 220 °C, which exceeds the highest temperature the panel design reaches. Before and after each round in the oven, the following tests were conducted to the receivers: Electroluminescence (EL) test, IV-curve tracing, diode function, and visual inspection. The test results showed that the receivers made with the transparent silicone and strain relief between cells experienced less microcracks and lower power degradation. No prototype test receiver lost more than 30% of its initial power, despite some receivers displaying a large number of cell cracks. The transparent and more elastic silicone is better at protecting the solar cells from the mechanical stress of thermal expansion than the compared silicone alternative, which was stiffer. As expected, larger cells are more prone to develop microcracks after exposure to thermal stress. Additionally, existing microcracks tend to grow in size relatively fast under thermal stress. EL imaging taken during our experiment leads us to conclude that it is far more likely for existing cracks to expand than for new cracks to appear.