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Modeling a Combined Photovoltaic-Thermal Panel

E. Gutierrez-Miravete1 B. Fontenault2
1Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Hartford, CT, USA
2General Dynamics-Electric Boat, Groton, CT, USA

Sketch of combined Photo-Voltaic/Thermal Cell.

A novel combined photovoltaic-thermal panel can simultaneously increase the conversion efficiency of the PV cell and utilize some of the excess thermal energy created by the conversion process (see Figure 1). The Conjugate Heat Transfer physics in COMSOL was used to create a two-dimensional, steady state model of such a combined photovoltaic cell-thermal panel. Figure 2 shows a magnified view of the finite element mesh near the inlet side of the combined panel. Figure 3 shows the effect of inlet water flow rate and channel dimensions on the calculated temperature of the PV cell. Figure 4 shows the computed combined PV-Thermal efficiency of the panel as a function of the same input parameters.

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