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Spatial temperature uniformity and statistical determination of dominant degradation modes in PV modules

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This is a two-part thesis.

Part 1 of this thesis investigates the influence of spatial temperature distribution on the accuracy of performance data of photovoltaic (PV) modules in outdoor conditions and provides physical approaches to improve the spatial temperature distribution of

This is a two-part thesis.

Part 1 of this thesis investigates the influence of spatial temperature distribution on the accuracy of performance data of photovoltaic (PV) modules in outdoor conditions and provides physical approaches to improve the spatial temperature distribution of the test modules so an accurate performance data can be obtained in the field. Conventionally, during outdoor performance testing, a single thermocouple location is used on the backsheet or back glass of a test module. This study clearly indicates that there is a large spatial temperature difference between various thermocouple locations within a module. Two physical approaches or configurations were experimented to improve the spatial temperature uniformity: thermally insulating the inner and outer surface of the frame; backsheet and inner surface of the frame. All the data were compared with un-insulated conventional configuration. This study was performed in an array setup of six modules under two different preconditioning electrical configurations, Voc and MPPT over several clear sunny days. This investigation concludes that the best temperature uniformity and the most accurate I-V data can be obtained only by thermally insulating the inner and outer frame surfaces or by using the average of four thermocouple temperatures, as specified in IEC 61853-2, without any thermal insulation.

Part 2 of this thesis analyzes the field data obtained from old PV power plants using various statistical techniques to identify the most influential degradation modes on fielded PV modules in two different climates: hot-dry (Arizona); cold-dry (New York). Performance data and visual inspection data of 647 modules fielded in five different power plants were analyzed. Statistical tests including hypothesis testing were carried out to identify the I-V parameter(s) that are affected the most. The affected performance parameters (Isc, Voc, FF and Pmax) were then correlated with the defects to determine the most dominant defect affecting power degradation. Analysis indicates that the cell interconnect discoloration (or solder bond deterioration) is the dominant defect in hot-dry climate leading to series resistance increase and power loss, while encapsulant delamination is being the most dominant defect in cold-dry climate leading to cell mismatch and power loss.

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2015

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Photovoltaic modules: effect of tilt angle on soiling

Description

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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Date Created
2011

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Building applied photovoltaic arrays: side-by-side array comparison with and without fan cooling

Description

Building Applied Photovoltaics (BAPV) form an essential part of today's solar economy. This thesis is an effort to compare and understand the effect of fan cooling on the temperature of rooftop photovoltaic (PV) modules by comparing two side-by-side arrays (test

Building Applied Photovoltaics (BAPV) form an essential part of today's solar economy. This thesis is an effort to compare and understand the effect of fan cooling on the temperature of rooftop photovoltaic (PV) modules by comparing two side-by-side arrays (test array and control array) under identical ambient conditions of irradiance, air temperature, wind speed and wind direction. The lower operating temperature of PV modules due to fan operation mitigates array non uniformity and improves on performance. A crystalline silicon (c-Si) PV module has a light to electrical conversion efficiency of 14-20%. So on a cool sunny day with incident solar irradiance of 1000 W/m2, a PV module with 15% efficiency, will produce about only 150 watts. The rest of the energy is primarily lost in the form of heat. Heat extraction methods for BAPV systems may become increasingly higher in demand as the hot stagnant air underneath the array can be extracted to improve the array efficiency and the extracted low-temperature heat can also be used for residential space heating and water heating. Poly c-Si modules experience a negative temperature coefficient of power at about -0.5% /o C. A typical poly c-Si module would experience power loss due to elevation in temperature, which may be in the range of 25 to 30% for desert conditions such as that of Mesa, Arizona. This thesis investigates the effect of fan cooling on the previously developed thermal models at Arizona State University and on the performance of PV modules/arrays. Ambient conditions are continuously monitored and collected to calculate module temperature using the thermal model and to compare with actually measured temperature of individual modules. Including baseline analysis, the thesis has also looked into the effect of fan on the test array in three stages of 14 continuous days each. Multiple Thermal models are developed in order to identify the effect of fan cooling on performance and temperature uniformity. Although the fan did not prove to have much significant cooling effect on the system, but when combined with wind blocks it helped improve the thermal mismatch both under low and high wind speed conditions.

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Date Created
2011

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Investigation of 1,900 individual field aged photovoltaic modules for potential induced degradation (PID) in a positive biased power plant

Description

Photovoltaic (PV) modules undergo performance degradation depending on climatic conditions, applications, and system configurations. The performance degradation prediction of PV modules is primarily based on Accelerated Life Testing (ALT) procedures. In order to further strengthen the ALT process, additional investigation

Photovoltaic (PV) modules undergo performance degradation depending on climatic conditions, applications, and system configurations. The performance degradation prediction of PV modules is primarily based on Accelerated Life Testing (ALT) procedures. In order to further strengthen the ALT process, additional investigation of the power degradation of field aged PV modules in various configurations is required. A detailed investigation of 1,900 field aged (12-18 years) PV modules deployed in a power plant application was conducted for this study. Analysis was based on the current-voltage (I-V) measurement of all the 1,900 modules individually. I-V curve data of individual modules formed the basis for calculating the performance degradation of the modules. The percentage performance degradation and rates of degradation were compared to an earlier study done at the same plant. The current research was primarily focused on identifying the extent of potential induced degradation (PID) of individual modules with reference to the negative ground potential. To investigate this, the arrangement and connection of the individual modules/strings was examined in detail. The study also examined the extent of underperformance of every series string due to performance mismatch of individual modules in that string. The power loss due to individual module degradation and module mismatch at string level was then compared to the rated value.

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Date Created
2011

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Potential induced degradation (PID) study of fresh and accelerated stress tested photovoltaic modules

Description

Infant mortality rate of field deployed photovoltaic (PV) modules may be expected to be higher than that estimated by standard qualification tests. The reason for increased failure rates may be attributed to the high system voltages. High voltages (HV) in

Infant mortality rate of field deployed photovoltaic (PV) modules may be expected to be higher than that estimated by standard qualification tests. The reason for increased failure rates may be attributed to the high system voltages. High voltages (HV) in grid connected modules induce additional stress factors that cause new degradation mechanisms. These new degradation mechanisms are not recognized by qualification stress tests. To study and model the effect of high system voltages, recently, potential induced degradation (PID) test method has been introduced. Using PID studies, it has been reported that high voltage failure rates are essentially due to increased leakage currents from active semiconducting layer to the grounded module frame, through encapsulant and/or glass. This project involved designing and commissioning of a new PID test bed at Photovoltaic Reliability Laboratory (PRL) of Arizona State University (ASU) to study the mechanisms of HV induced degradation. In this study, PID stress tests have been performed on accelerated stress modules, in addition to fresh modules of crystalline silicon technology. Accelerated stressing includes thermal cycling (TC200 cycles) and damp heat (1000 hours) tests as per IEC 61215. Failure rates in field deployed modules that are exposed to long term weather conditions are better simulated by conducting HV tests on prior accelerated stress tested modules. The PID testing was performed in 3 phases on a set of 5 mono crystalline silicon modules. In Phase-I of PID test, a positive bias of +600 V was applied, between shorted leads and frame of each module, on 3 modules with conducting carbon coating on glass superstrate. The 3 module set was comprised of: 1 fresh control, TC200 and DH1000. The PID test was conducted in an environmental chamber by stressing the modules at 85°C, for 35 hours with an intermittent evaluation for Arrhenius effects. In the Phase-II, a negative bias of -600 V was applied on a set of 3 modules in the chamber as defined above. The 3 module set in phase-II was comprised of: control module from phase-I, TC200 and DH1000. In the Phase-III, the same set of 3 modules which were used in the phase-II again subjected to +600 V bias to observe the recovery of lost power during the Phase-II. Electrical performance, infrared (IR) and electroluminescence (EL) were done prior and post PID testing. It was observed that high voltage positive bias in the first phase resulted in little
o power loss, high voltage negative bias in the second phase caused significant power loss and the high voltage positive bias in the third phase resulted in major recovery of lost power.

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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

Description

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 and characterization of gas diffusion layer using carbon slurry dispersed by ammonium lauryl sulfate for proton exchange member fuel cells

Description

Gas diffusion layers (GDLs) are a critical and essential part of proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs). They carry out various important functions such as transportation of reactants to and from the reaction sites. The material properties and structural characteristics

Gas diffusion layers (GDLs) are a critical and essential part of proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs). They carry out various important functions such as transportation of reactants to and from the reaction sites. The material properties and structural characteristics of the substrate and the microporous layer strongly influence fuel cell performance. The microporous layer of the GDLs was fabricated with the carbon slurry dispersed in water containing ammonium lauryl sulfate (ALS) using the wire rod coating method. GDLs were fabricated with different materials to compose the microporous layer and evaluated the effects on PEMFC power output performance. The consistency of the carbon slurry was achieved by adding 25 wt. % of PTFE, a binding agent with a 75:25 ratio of carbon (Pureblack and vapor grown carbon fiber). The GDLs were investigated in PEMFC under various relative humidity (RH) conditions using H2/O2 and H2/Air. GDLs were also fabricated with the carbon slurry dispersed in water containing sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) and multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) with isopropyl alcohol (IPA) based for fuel cell performance comparison. MWCNTs and SDS exhibits the highest performance at 60% and 70% RH with a peak power density of 1100 mW.cm-2 and 850 mW.cm-2 using air and oxygen as an oxidant. This means that the gas diffusion characteristics of these two samples were optimum at 60 and 70 % RH with high limiting current density range. It was also found that the composition of the carbon slurry, specifically ALS concentration has the highest peak power density of 1300 and 500mW.cm-2 for both H2/O2 and H2/Air at 100% RH. However, SDS and MWCNTs demonstrates the lowest power density using air and oxygen as an oxidants at 100% RH.

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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

Description

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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Building applied and back insulated photovoltaic modules: thermal models

Description

Building applied photovoltaics (BAPV) is a major application sector for photovoltaics (PV). Due to the negative temperature coefficient of power output, the performance of a PV module decreases as the temperature of the module increases. In hot climatic conditions, such

Building applied photovoltaics (BAPV) is a major application sector for photovoltaics (PV). Due to the negative temperature coefficient of power output, the performance of a PV module decreases as the temperature of the module increases. In hot climatic conditions, such as the summer in Arizona, the operating temperature of a BAPV module can reach as high as 90°C. Considering a typical 0.5%/°C power drop for crystalline silicon (c-Si) modules, a performance decrease of approximately 30% would be expected during peak summer temperatures due to the difference between rated temperature (25°C) and operating temperature (~90°C) of the modules. Also, in a worst-case scenario, such as partial shading of the PV cells of air gap-free BAPV modules, some of the components could attain temperatures that would be high enough to compromise the safety and functionality requirements of the module and its components. Based on the temperature and weather data collected over a year in Arizona, a mathematical thermal model has been developed and presented in this paper to predict module temperature for five different air gaps (0", 1", 2", 3", and 4"). For comparison, modules with a thermally-insulated (R30) back were evaluated to determine the worst-case scenario. This thesis also provides key technical details related to the specially-built, simulated rooftop structure; the mounting configuration of the PV modules on the rooftop structure; the LabVIEW program that was developed for data acquisition and the MATLAB program for developing the thermal models. In order to address the safety issue, temperature test results (obtained in accordance with IEC 61730-2 and UL 1703 safety standards) are presented and analyzed for nine different components of a PV module, i.e., the front glass, substrate/backsheet (polymer), PV cell, j-box ambient, j-box surface, positive terminal, backsheet inside j-box, field wiring, and diode. The temperature test results obtained for about 140 crystalline silicon modules from a large number of manufacturers who tested modules between 2006 and 2009 at ASU/TÜV-PTL were analyzed and presented in this paper under three test conditions, i.e., short-circuit, open-circuit, and short-circuit and shaded. Also, the nominal operating cell temperatures (NOCTs) of the BAPV modules and insulated-back PV modules are presented in this paper for use by BAPV module designers and installers.

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2010

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Building applied photovoltaic array: thermal modeling and fan cooling

Description

Thermal modeling and investigation into heat extraction methods for building-applied photovoltaic (BAPV) systems have become important for the industry in order to predict energy production and lower the cost per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of generating electricity from these types of systems.

Thermal modeling and investigation into heat extraction methods for building-applied photovoltaic (BAPV) systems have become important for the industry in order to predict energy production and lower the cost per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of generating electricity from these types of systems. High operating temperatures have a direct impact on the performance of BAPV systems and can reduce power output by as much as 10 to 20%. The traditional method of minimizing the operating temperature of BAPV modules has been to include a suitable air gap for ventilation between the rooftop and the modules. There has been research done at Arizona State University (ASU) which investigates the optimum air gap spacing on sufficiently spaced (2-6 inch vertical; 2-inch lateral) modules of four columns. However, the thermal modeling of a large continuous array (with multiple modules of the same type and size and at the same air gap) had yet to be done at ASU prior to this project. In addition to the air gap effect analysis, the industry is exploring different ways of extracting the heat from PV modules including hybrid photovoltaic-thermal systems (PV/T). The goal of this project was to develop a thermal model for a small residential BAPV array consisting of 12 identical polycrystalline silicon modules at an air gap of 2.5 inches from the rooftop. The thermal model coefficients are empirically derived from a simulated field test setup at ASU and are presented in this thesis. Additionally, this project investigates the effects of cooling the array with a 40-Watt exhaust fan. The fan had negligible effect on power output or efficiency for this 2.5-inch air gap array, but provided slightly lower temperatures and better temperature uniformity across the array.

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Date Created
2010