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Photovoltaic modules: effect of tilt angle on soiling

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Photovoltaic (PV) systems are one of the next generation's renewable energy sources for our world energy demand. PV modules are highly reliable. However, in polluted environments, over time, they will collect grime and dust. There are also limited field data

Photovoltaic (PV) systems are one of the next generation's renewable energy sources for our world energy demand. PV modules are highly reliable. However, in polluted environments, over time, they will collect grime and dust. There are also limited field data studies about soiling losses on PV modules. The study showed how important it is to investigate the effect of tilt angle on soiling. The study includes two sets of mini-modules. Each set has 9 PV modules tilted at 0, 5, 10, 15, 20, 23, 30, 33 and 40°. The first set called "Cleaned" was cleaned every other day. The second set called "Soiled" was never cleaned after the first day. The short circuit current, a measure of irradiance, and module temperature was monitored and recorded every two minutes over three months (January-March 2011). The data were analyzed to investigate the effect of tilt angle on daily and monthly soiling, and hence transmitted solar insolation and energy production by PV modules. The study shows that during the period of January through March 2011 there was an average loss due to soiling of approximately 2.02% for 0° tilt angle. Modules at tilt anlges 23° and 33° also have some insolation losses but do not come close to the module at 0° tilt angle. Tilt anlge 23° has approximately 1.05% monthly insolation loss, and 33° tilt angle has an insolation loss of approximately 0.96%. The soiling effect is present at any tilt angle, but the magnitude is evident: the flatter the solar module is placed the more energy it will lose.

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2011

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Downstream processing of Synechocystis for biofuel production

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Lipids and free fatty acids (FFA) from cyanobacterium Synechocystis can be used for biofuel (e.g. biodiesel or renewable diesel) production. In order to utilize and scale up this technique, downstream processes including culturing and harvest, cell disruption, and extraction were

Lipids and free fatty acids (FFA) from cyanobacterium Synechocystis can be used for biofuel (e.g. biodiesel or renewable diesel) production. In order to utilize and scale up this technique, downstream processes including culturing and harvest, cell disruption, and extraction were studied. Several solvents/solvent systems were screened for lipid extraction from Synechocystis. Chloroform + methanol-based Folch and Bligh & Dyer methods were proved to be "gold standard" for small-scale analysis due to their highest lipid recoveries that were confirmed by their penetration of the cell membranes, higher polarity, and stronger interaction with hydrogen bonds. Less toxic solvents, such as methanol and MTBE, or direct transesterification of biomass (without pre-extraction step) gave only slightly lower lipid-extraction yields and can be considered for large-scale application. Sustained exposure to high and low temperature extremes severely lowered the biomass and lipid productivity. Temperature stress also triggered changes of lipid quality such as the degree of unsaturation; thus, it affected the productivities and quality of Synechocystis-derived biofuel. Pulsed electric field (PEF) was evaluated for cell disruption prior to lipid extraction. A treatment intensity > 35 kWh/m3 caused significant damage to the plasma membrane, cell wall, and thylakoid membrane, and it even led to complete disruption of some cells into fragments. Treatment by PEF enhanced the potential for the low-toxicity solvent isopropanol to access lipid molecules during subsequent solvent extraction, leading to lower usage of isopropanol for the same extraction efficiency. Other cell-disruption methods also were tested. Distinct disruption effects to the cell envelope, plasma membrane, and thylakoid membranes were observed that were related to extraction efficiency. Microwave and ultrasound had significant enhancement of lipid extraction. Autoclaving, ultrasound, and French press caused significant release of lipid into the medium, which may increase solvent usage and make medium recycling difficult. Production of excreted FFA by mutant Synechocystis has the potential of reducing the complexity of downstream processing. Major problems, such as FFA precipitation and biodegradation by scavengers, account for FFA loss in operation. Even a low concentration of FFA scavengers could consume FFA at a high rate that outpaced FFA production rate. Potential strategies to overcome FFA loss include high pH, adsorptive resin, and sterilization techniques.

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2011

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Development of transition metal macrocyclic-catalysts supported on multi-walled carbon nanotubes for alkaline membrane fuel cell

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Low temperature fuel cells are very attractive energy conversion technology for automotive applications due to their qualities of being clean, quiet, efficient and good peak power densities. However, due to high cost and limited durability and reliability, commercialization of this

Low temperature fuel cells are very attractive energy conversion technology for automotive applications due to their qualities of being clean, quiet, efficient and good peak power densities. However, due to high cost and limited durability and reliability, commercialization of this technology has not been possible as yet. The high fuel cell cost is mostly due to the expensive noble catalyst Pt. Alkaline fuel cell (AFC) systems, have potential to make use of non-noble catalysts and thus, provides with a solution of overall lower cost. Therefore, this issue has been addressed in this thesis work. Hydrogen-oxygen fuel cells using an alkaline anion exchange membrane were prepared and evaluated. Various non-platinum catalyst materials were investigated by fabricating membrane-electrode assemblies (MEAs) using Tokuyama membrane (# A201) and compared with commercial noble metal catalysts. Co and Fe phthalocyanine catalyst materials were synthesized using multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) as support materials. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopic study was conducted in order to examine the surface composition. The electroreduction of oxygen has been investigated on Fe phthalocyanine/MWCNT, Co phthalocyanine/MWCNT and commercial Pt/C catalysts. The oxygen reduction reaction kinetics on these catalyst materials were evaluated using rotating disk electrodes in 0.1 M KOH solution and the current density values were consistently higher for Co phthalocyanine based electrodes compared to Fe phthalocyanine. The fuel cell performance of the MEAs with Co and Fe phthalocyanines and Tanaka Kikinzoku Kogyo Pt/C cathode catalysts were 100, 60 and 120 mW cm-2 using H22 and O2 gases. This thesis also includes work on synthesizing nitrogen doped MWCNTs using post-doping and In-Situ methods. Post-doped N-MWNCTs were prepared through heat treatment with NH4OH as nitrogen source. Characterization was done through fuel cell testing, which gave peak power density ~40mW.cm-2. For In-Situ N-MWCT, pyridine was used as nitrogen source. The sample characterization was done using Raman spectroscopy and RBS, which showed the presence ~3 at.% of nitrogen on the carbon surface.

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2012

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Development of platinum-copper core-shell nanocatalyst on multi-walled carbon nanotubes for proton exchange membrane fuel cells

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With a recent shift to a more environmentally conscious society, low-carbon and non-carbon producing energy production methods are being investigated and applied all over the world. Of these methods, fuel cells show great potential for clean energy production. A fuel

With a recent shift to a more environmentally conscious society, low-carbon and non-carbon producing energy production methods are being investigated and applied all over the world. Of these methods, fuel cells show great potential for clean energy production. A fuel cell is an electrochemical energy conversion device which directly converts chemical energy into electrical energy. Proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) are a highly researched energy source for automotive and stationary power applications. In order to produce the power required to meet Department of Energy requirements, platinum (Pt) must be used as a catalyst material in PEMFCs. Platinum, however, is very expensive and extensive research is being conducted to develop ways to reduce the amount of platinum used in PEMFCs. In the current study, three catalyst synthesis techniques were investigated and evaluated on their effectiveness to produce platinum-on copper (Pt@Cu) core-shell nanocatalyst on multi-walled carbon nanotube (MWCNT) support material. These three methods were direct deposition method, two-phase surfactant method, and single-phase surfactant method, in which direct deposition did not use a surfactant for particle size control and the surfactant methods did. The catalyst materials synthesized were evaluated by visual inspection and fuel cell performance. Samples which produced high fuel cell power output were evaluated using transmission electron microscopy (TEM) imaging. After evaluation, it was concluded that the direct deposition technique was effective in synthesizing Pt@Cu core-shell nanocatalyst on MWCNTs support when a rinsing process was used before adding platinum. The peak power density achieved by the rinsed core-shell catalyst was 618 mW.cm-2 , 13 percent greater than that of commercial platinum-carbon (Pt/C) catalyst. Transmission electron microscopy imaging revealed the core-shell catalyst contained Pt shells and platinum-copper alloy cores. Rinsing with deionized (DI) water was shown to be a crucial step in core-shell catalyst deposition as it reduced the number of platinum colloids on the carbon nanotube surface. After evaluation, it was concluded that the two-phase surfactant and single-phase surfactant synthesis methods were not effective at producing core-shell nanocatalyst with the parameters investigated.

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2012

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Meta-stability of crystalline thin-film photovoltaic devices

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Given the growing market in solar energy, specifically by the thin-film technologies, it is imperative that adequate and accurate standards be developed for these newer photovoltaic devices. Cadmium Telluride, CdTe, one of the major players in the thin-film PV industry

Given the growing market in solar energy, specifically by the thin-film technologies, it is imperative that adequate and accurate standards be developed for these newer photovoltaic devices. Cadmium Telluride, CdTe, one of the major players in the thin-film PV industry is currently rated and certified using standards that have been developed under the context of older technologies. The behavior of CdTe has been shown to be unique enough to suggesting that standards be revised. In this research, methods built on previous industry and independent studies are used to identify these unique behaviors. As well new methods are developed to further characterize CdTe modules in the context of current standards. Clear transient and meta-stable behavior is identified across modules from four different commercial manufacturers. Conclusions drawn from this study show illumination and temperature hysteresis effects on module ratings. Furthermore, suggestions for further study are given that could be used to define parameters for any reexamination of module standards.

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2010

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26+ year old photovoltaic power plant: degradation and reliability evaluation of crystalline silicon modules - north array

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The object of this study was a 26 year old residential Photovoltaic (PV) monocrystalline silicon (c-Si) power plant, called Solar One, built by developer John F. Long in Phoenix, Arizona (a hot-dry field condition). The task for Arizona State University

The object of this study was a 26 year old residential Photovoltaic (PV) monocrystalline silicon (c-Si) power plant, called Solar One, built by developer John F. Long in Phoenix, Arizona (a hot-dry field condition). The task for Arizona State University Photovoltaic Reliability Laboratory (ASU-PRL) graduate students was to evaluate the power plant through visual inspection, electrical performance, and infrared thermography. The purpose of this evaluation was to measure and understand the extent of degradation to the system along with the identification of the failure modes in this hot-dry climatic condition. This 4000 module bipolar system was originally installed with a 200 kW DC output of PV array (17 degree fixed tilt) and an AC output of 175 kVA. The system was shown to degrade approximately at a rate of 2.3% per year with no apparent potential induced degradation (PID) effect. The power plant is made of two arrays, the north array and the south array. Due to a limited time frame to execute this large project, this work was performed by two masters students (Jonathan Belmont and Kolapo Olakonu) and the test results are presented in two masters theses. This thesis presents the results obtained on the north array and the other thesis presents the results obtained on the south array. The resulting study showed that PV module design, array configuration, vandalism, installation methods and Arizona environmental conditions have had an effect on this system's longevity and reliability. Ultimately, encapsulation browning, higher series resistance (potentially due to solder bond fatigue) and non-cell interconnect ribbon breakages outside the modules were determined to be the primary causes for the power loss.

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2013

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26+ year old photovoltaic power plant: degradation and reliability evaluation of crystalline silicon modules - south array

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ABSTRACT As the use of photovoltaic (PV) modules in large power plants continues to increase globally, more studies on degradation, reliability, failure modes, and mechanisms of field aged modules are needed to predict module life expectancy based on accelerated lifetime

ABSTRACT As the use of photovoltaic (PV) modules in large power plants continues to increase globally, more studies on degradation, reliability, failure modes, and mechanisms of field aged modules are needed to predict module life expectancy based on accelerated lifetime testing of PV modules. In this work, a 26+ year old PV power plant in Phoenix, Arizona has been evaluated for performance, reliability, and durability. The PV power plant, called Solar One, is owned and operated by John F. Long's homeowners association. It is a 200 kWdc, standard test conditions (STC) rated power plant comprised of 4000 PV modules or frameless laminates, in 100 panel groups (rated at 175 kWac). The power plant is made of two center-tapped bipolar arrays, the north array and the south array. Due to a limited time frame to execute this large project, this work was performed by two masters students (Jonathan Belmont and Kolapo Olakonu) and the test results are presented in two masters theses. This thesis presents the results obtained on the south array and the other thesis presents the results obtained on the north array. Each of these two arrays is made of four sub arrays, the east sub arrays (positive and negative polarities) and the west sub arrays (positive and negative polarities), making up eight sub arrays. The evaluation and analyses of the power plant included in this thesis consists of: visual inspection, electrical performance measurements, and infrared thermography. A possible presence of potential induced degradation (PID) due to potential difference between ground and strings was also investigated. Some installation practices were also studied and found to contribute to the power loss observed in this investigation. The power output measured in 2011 for all eight sub arrays at STC is approximately 76 kWdc and represents a power loss of 62% (from 200 kW to 76 kW) over 26+ years. The 2011 measured power output for the four south sub arrays at STC is 39 kWdc and represents a power loss of 61% (from 100 kW to 39 kW) over 26+ years. Encapsulation browning and non-cell interconnect ribbon breakages were determined to be the primary causes for the power loss.

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2012

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Potential induced degradation (PID) of pre-stressed photovoltaic modules: effect of glass surface conductivity disruption

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Potential induced degradation (PID) due to high system voltages is one of the major degradation mechanisms in photovoltaic (PV) modules, adversely affecting their performance due to the combined effects of the following factors: system voltage, superstrate/glass surface conductivity, encapsulant conductivity,

Potential induced degradation (PID) due to high system voltages is one of the major degradation mechanisms in photovoltaic (PV) modules, adversely affecting their performance due to the combined effects of the following factors: system voltage, superstrate/glass surface conductivity, encapsulant conductivity, silicon nitride anti-reflection coating property and interface property (glass/encapsulant; encapsulant/cell; encapsulant/backsheet). Previous studies carried out at ASU's Photovoltaic Reliability Laboratory (ASU-PRL) showed that only negative voltage bias (positive grounded systems) adversely affects the performance of commonly available crystalline silicon modules. In previous studies, the surface conductivity of the glass surface was obtained using either conductive carbon layer extending from the glass surface to the frame or humidity inside an environmental chamber. This thesis investigates the influence of glass surface conductivity disruption on PV modules. In this study, conductive carbon was applied only on the module's glass surface without extending to the frame and the surface conductivity was disrupted (no carbon layer) at 2cm distance from the periphery of frame inner edges. This study was carried out under dry heat at two different temperatures (60 °C and 85 °C) and three different negative bias voltages (-300V, -400V, and -600V). To replicate closeness to the field conditions, half of the selected modules were pre-stressed under damp heat for 1000 hours (DH 1000) and the remaining half under 200 hours of thermal cycling (TC 200). When the surface continuity was disrupted by maintaining a 2 cm gap from the frame to the edge of the conductive layer, as demonstrated in this study, the degradation was found to be absent or negligibly small even after 35 hours of negative bias at elevated temperatures. This preliminary study appears to indicate that the modules could become immune to PID losses if the continuity of the glass surface conductivity is disrupted at the inside boundary of the frame. The surface conductivity of the glass, due to water layer formation in a humid condition, close to the frame could be disrupted just by applying a water repelling (hydrophobic) but high transmittance surface coating (such as Teflon) or modifying the frame/glass edges with water repellent properties.

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2012

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Power rating of photovoltaic modules using a new outdoor method

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Photovoltaic (PV) modules are typically rated at three test conditions: STC (standard test conditions), NOCT (nominal operating cell temperature) and Low E (low irradiance). The current thesis deals with the power rating of PV modules at twenty-three test conditions as

Photovoltaic (PV) modules are typically rated at three test conditions: STC (standard test conditions), NOCT (nominal operating cell temperature) and Low E (low irradiance). The current thesis deals with the power rating of PV modules at twenty-three test conditions as per the recent International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standard of IEC 61853 – 1. In the current research, an automation software tool developed by a previous researcher of ASU – PRL (ASU Photovoltaic Reliability Laboratory) is validated at various stages. Also in the current research, the power rating of PV modules for four different manufacturers is carried out according to IEC 61853 – 1 standard using a new outdoor test method. The new outdoor method described in this thesis is very different from the one reported by a previous researcher of ASU – PRL. The new method was designed to reduce the labor hours in collecting the current-voltage ( I – V) curves at various temperatures and irradiance levels. The power matrices for all the four manufacturers were generated using the I – V data generated at different temperatures and irradiance levels and the translation procedures described in IEC 60891 standard. All the measurements were carried out on both clear and cloudy days using an automated 2 – axis tracker located at ASU – PRL, Mesa, Arizona. The modules were left on the 2 – axis tracker for 12 continuous days and the data was continuously and automatically collected for every two minutes from 6 am to 6 pm. In order to obtain the I – V data at wide range of temperatures and irradiance levels, four identical (or nearly identical) modules were simultaneously installed on the 2 – axis tracker with and without thermal insulators on the back of the modules and with and without mesh screens on the front of the modules. Several issues related to the automation software were uncovered and the required improvement in the software has been suggested. The power matrices for four manufacturers have been successfully generated using the new outdoor test method developed in this work. The data generated in this work has been extensively analyzed for accuracy and for performance efficiency comparison at various temperatures and irradiance levels.

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2012

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Comparison of four methods to assess silver release from nano impregnated reverse osmosis membranes

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With the application of reverse osmosis (RO) membranes in the wastewater treatment and seawater desalination, the limitation of flux and fouling problems of RO have gained more attention from researchers. Because of the tunable structure and physicochemical properties of nanomaterials,

With the application of reverse osmosis (RO) membranes in the wastewater treatment and seawater desalination, the limitation of flux and fouling problems of RO have gained more attention from researchers. Because of the tunable structure and physicochemical properties of nanomaterials, it is a suitable material that can be used to incorporate with RO to change the membrane performances. Silver is biocidal, which has been used in a variety of consumer products. Recent studies showed that fabricating silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) on membrane surfaces can mitigate the biofouling problem on the membrane. Studies have shown that Ag released from the membrane in the form of either Ag ions or AgNP will accelerate the antimicrobial activity of the membrane. However, the silver release from the membrane will lower the silver loading on the membrane, which will eventually shorten the antimicrobial activity lifetime of the membrane. Therefore, the silver leaching amount is a crucial parameter that needs to be determined for every type of Ag composite membrane.

This study is attempting to compare four different silver leaching test methods, to study the silver leaching potential of the silver impregnated membranes, conducting the advantages and disadvantages of the leaching methods. An In-situ reduction Ag loaded RO membrane was examined in this study. A custom waterjet test was established to create a high-velocity water flow to test the silver leaching from the nanocomposite membrane in a relative extreme environment. The batch leaching test was examined as the most common leaching test method for the silver composite membrane. The cross-flow filtration and dead-end test were also examined to compare the silver leaching amounts.

The silver coated membrane used in this experiment has an initial silver loading of 2.0± 0.51 ug/cm2. The mass balance was conducted for all of the leaching tests. For the batch test, water jet test, and dead-end filtration, the mass balances are all within 100±25%, which is acceptable in this experiment because of the variance of the initial silver loading on the membranes. A bad silver mass balance was observed at cross-flow filtration. Both of AgNP and Ag ions leached in the solution was examined in this experiment. The concentration of total silver leaching into solutions from the four leaching tests are all below the Secondary Drinking Water Standard for silver which is 100 ppb. The cross-flow test is the most aggressive leaching method, which has more than 80% of silver leached from the membrane after 50 hours of the test. The water jet (54 ± 6.9% of silver remaining) can cause higher silver leaching than batch test (85 ± 1.2% of silver remaining) in one-hour, and it can also cause both AgNP and Ag ions leaching from the membrane, which is closer to the leaching condition in the cross-flow test.

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2017