Improving Efficiency of Building-integrated Photovoltaic Panels Using Phase Change Materials

EPA Grant Number: SU836127
Title: Improving Efficiency of Building-integrated Photovoltaic Panels Using Phase Change Materials
Investigators: Boetcher, Sandra
Institution: Embry - Riddle Aeronautical University
EPA Project Officer: Sergeant, Anne
Phase: I
Project Period: September 1, 2015 through August 31, 2016
Project Amount: $15,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2015) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Awards , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , Sustainability , P3 Challenge Area - Built Environment

Objective:

The objective of this EPA Phase I project is to investigate improving the efficiency of building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) by regulating the temperature with solid-liquid phase-change materials (PCM). Photovoltaic (PV) panels and PCM will be integrated into building materials for modules suitable for construction. The novel aspect of the proposed research is using PCM as a heat sink to regulate BIPV panel temperature. The long-term goal of the project is to investigate PV efficiency improvement and building use of the stored heat in the PCM. Regulating PV panel temperature improves the solar-to-electric conversion efficiency and the stored heat can be used for space heating and domestic hot water pre-heating.

Approach:

The approach will be to investigate the effectiveness of PV-BIPV prototype modules both experimentally and numerically.

Expected Results:

The result of the EPA P3 Phase I project will be a prototype BIPV-PCM module that will increase PV efficiency by regulating the temperature of the PV cells. Further, the research conducted will provide insights into PCM packaging and PCM heat transfer enhancement, particularly between PV cells and the PCM. The energy stored in the PCM from the PV can be utilized for other building needs such as space heating or water heating.

Supplemental Keywords:

Photovoltaics, Building-Integrated Photovoltaics, Solar Power, Photovoltaics/Thermal Hybrid Systems, Phase-Change Material