Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Photovoltaic concentrator optical system design: Solar energy engineering from physics to field
by Coughenour, Blake Michael, Ph.D., The University of Arizona, 2014, 400; 3619002
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation describes the design, development, and field validation of a concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) solar energy system. The challenges of creating a highly efficient yet low-cost system architecture come from many sources. The solid-state physics of photovoltaic devices present fundamental limits to photoelectron conversion efficiency, while the electrical and thermal characteristics of widely available materials limit the design arena. Furthermore, the need for high solar spectral throughput, evenly concentrated sunlight, and tolerance to off-axis pointing places strict illumination requirements on the optical design. To be commercially viable, the cost associated with all components must be minimized so that when taken together, the absolute installed cost of the system in kWh is lower than any other solar energy method, and competitive with fossil fuel power generation.

The work detailed herein focuses specifically on unique optical design and illumination concepts discovered when developing a viable commercial CPV system. By designing from the ground up with the fundamental physics of photovoltaic devices and the required system tolerances in mind, a select range of optical designs are determined and modeled. Component cost analysis, assembly effort, and development time frame further influence design choices to arrive at a final optical system design.

When coupled with the collecting mirror, the final optical hardware unit placed at the focus generates more than 800W, yet is small and lightweight enough to hold in your hand. After fabrication and installation, the completed system's illumination, spectral, and thermal performance is validated with on-sun operational testing.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Angel, James R.P.
Commitee: Cronin, Alexander, Koshel, Richard J.
School: The University of Arizona
Department: Optical Sciences
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-B 75/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Alternative Energy, Optics, Environmental engineering
Keywords: Concentrator photovoltaics, Kohler illumination, Photovoltaics, Solar energy
Publication Number: 3619002
ISBN: 9781303876400
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